Faith · Life

On Ideas

Since writing the other day about dumb ideas and the perils of sharing them, I’ve been thinking more about it. Thomas Edison said, “To have a great idea, have a lot of them.” If that’s true, I am on my way to having a great idea.

Many of my ideas are like silverfish — fast, uncatchable, mostly harmless,  and/or slightly annoying.

My kids roll their eyes when I say I have an idea. “Most of your ideas involve us cleaning,” Laurel told me once. That’s not true. If it was, I’m pretty sure the house would look better than it does.

Most ideas are flawed but contain a kernel of good. Unfortunately, I fail to see the flaw until I share the idea with someone else and they point it out, or I actually carry out the idea and end up regretting it.

A lot of my ideas involve games — like Otter Island, which my friend Katy and I still talk about even though neither of us can remember all the rules. About 10 years ago, I had come up with this idea for a swim camp called Swim Like a Beast (<– hare-brained, I know) where instead of focusing on a different stroke each day, we used a different animal to springboard into our activities. On Dog day we had the little swimmers swim-morph from dog paddle to people paddle (as I called Freestyle that day) and on Frog day we worked on breaststroke kick, etc. Of course, we did other goofy things — like on Otter day playing this game that involved a floating mat (the island), foam noodles (predatory eagles), and lots of swimming either underwater or on the back. It was chaotic, slightly dangerous, and fun.

Chaos, danger, and fun were also ingredients in King of the Log, a variation on King of the Hill, that I made up for the high school girls swim team to play once — until someone got hurt — right before a big meet. Oops. But then, Oscar Wilde said, “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”

The Ping-Pong Ball in the Compartmental Vegetable Tray game was a disaster one Christmas when I invented the game for our gift card exchange. Chaotic – yes, but no danger, and far more frustration than fun.

Then there was the art contest I came up with for Covid. The germ of the idea was good — get my kids to create refrigerator art for me during quarantine. Low on chaos, high in danger because sharing art is a scary thing, but the fun was questionable. Plus it dragged on way too long. However, here are my two of my favorite pieces from the 6 rounds (a new round every 3 weeks — using C-O-V-I-D-19 for inspiration):

O — for ocean (it’s a magnet)
V — for vacation (quintessential photoshopped postcard)

Idea people need sounding boards and guinea pigs. I am blessed to have both in my life.

If you’re an idea person, share your ideas — even the bad ones.

If you’re friends with an idea person, be a safe haven.


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