Thomas Edison was born to be an inventor. What were you born to be?
In third grade, our class was asked to write reports on heroes of our choosing. Famous baseball players and astronauts ranked high as popular choices. I went with Edison.
To me, Edison had a pinch more mojo than his contenders. He had achieved something more remarkable than hitting a homerun or landing on the moon. Edison had persevered through innumerable failures. Every successful person’s life is seasoned with a little failure, but Edison’s life was marinated in it.
The inventor attempted 10,000 times before creating the right filament connection to allow electric light. From the phonograph, to the lightbulb, to primitive movie cameras, Edison’s lab in Menlo Park, NJ churned out creations. When Edison said genius is, “one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” he was referring to his own sweat. It was a hint he gave at the labor behind the 1,093 U.S. Patents he would be eventually be granted.
By way of my library card and AOL dial-up connection, I gathered Edison’s message: its not about how smart you are, its about how hard you are willing to work. In knowing that Edison achieved what he did largely through hard work rather than genius, undercurrents of possibilities are more apparent in our own lives.
Holding people to a Thomas Edison standard would mean demanding that people #1. work their asses off for their dreams, and #2. never give up. It would require people to relentlessly pursue their callings. And maybe that’s not such a bad idea. If Edison had given up, and said on try #5,672, “Screw it, I’m over this,” then we would not know what it means to see the lights of our city across the bay at night. Our days would still end when the sun went down.
Some people might say that’s “Me” generation talk. Misinformed blathering from this chick from California. But, I truly believe that each of us has special talents we are intended to share with the world. After saying that, I feel like the newest member of the Care Bears, but its the truth.
Many ignore their intuition, their “passion,” the little voice inside of them that steers them towards their goals.
But then there are the ones who pay attention. The insistence of your dreams is a like a murmur in the beginning, difficult to hear. But that voice grows louder with time and action. Its important to listen. When I leave my house, to take photographs, surf, or go to work, and if the fog of doubt curls around my ankles, I’ll bring something else Edison said to mind: “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”