Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Idea Men

There is nothing new regarding my sciatica and possible back surgery as we’re waiting on the MRI scheduled for the day after tomorrow to tell us more about what’s going on back there. However, the subject of back pain has spawned the longest E-mail I think I’ve ever received. And it’s from my grandfather, Pop, of all people. It is a healthy 1,082 words long, I checked. The gist of it is that he’s been going through some back pain of his own and, while he visited an orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist, and was prescribed everything from Motrin to steroids, it was a chiropractor that brought him the most relief. Good news, indeed.

But it was near the end of this massive E-mail, about 912 words into it, that he really impressed me as he always has. He’s designed a back brace for people with his – and my – type of back pain. And of course he has. Even through his pain he sees the possibility of a new device, and I get to see why I’m like I am. All through my formative years I heard him, my uncles, even my father, coming up with ideas for new items, home additions or new businesses. Very little ever happened with these. In fact, other than Harvester, none of them happened. It was as if the founders of Microsoft all got together in Bill Gates’s garage, or wherever they came up with their plan for world domination, and put together the blueprint for their future company, but then somebody pulled a cooler full of beer from under a workbench and a poker game broke out and everybody forgot about computers.

I believe I inherited this gene, or whatever it is. I’m an idea man, something else I have in common with my 76-year-old grandfather other than chronic back pain. I’ve carried through on an idea or two and usually feel that I’m making a mess of it, but generally feel good about the fact that I’ve taken the road. I wonder which, if not all, of my kids will inherit the trait. I think it’s too strong to just go away. I’ve seen traces of it here and there – C likes to draw and has drawn up plans for contraptions a la Wile E. Coyote, and there have been numerous robots and whatnot fashioned from Play-Doh, some of the remnants are still with us, stuck to couch cushions and under tabletops. Pipe cleaners and paper clips, as well, have been bent and twisted to reflect what they see as better mousetraps.

I hope that The Trio embraces their creativity, but also their capacity for logic, should any of them be granted with such a thing. I’ve led with my heart in the endeavors I’ve undertaken, but there is the mind to consider as well. Perhaps logic and reason is why the brainstorming I overheard as a kid never left the idea stage. All I know is that my next big idea is to raise children to the fullest of their ability and watch as they embrace their creativity and their ideas and, after their plans flourish and the riches roll in, then I’ll settle them down in my garage to drink beer, teach them poker and take that money away from them.

(By the way, my reply E-mail to Pop came in at a scrawny 244 words. I can't even keep up with him in word usage.)