Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why Crazy ideas are essential

Why Crazy ideas are essential?

An idea can change your life. Creating and sharing crazy ideas can be just plain fun. I recently read about one man's idea to give away free gas an make money doing so. There were remote-controlled paintball guns with cameras on them, connected to a web site where people would pay to fire paintballs at drivers as they filled up. This guy even went so far as to ask city officials if they would allow a business like this. Apparently they wouldn't, but it did make me smile.

Humor and fun can be good things, but there is often something to be gained from exploring crazy ideas as well. Some really unusual ideas have lead to practical solutions for business. For example, the idea of eyes on shoes lead (by a circuitous route) to safety reflectors which make joggers more visible to drivers at night. And important questions of philosophy, psychology and morality that can be profitably explored from the perspective of an unusual concept. Consider the following example.

A Thousand Mile Hole
An image came to mind one day, of an isolated forest where a hole a thousand miles deep and several hundred feet across is found. Instead of ignoring this idea, I worked with it for a while. I imagined falling into the hole. I realized that because of air resistance, I would quickly reach a terminal velocity of around 120 miles-per-hour or so. At that speed I would have eight hours before hitting the bottom.

Imagine yourself in this scenario for a moment. It is a very certain countdown to death, and you know you have about eight hours to live, so what do you think about as you fall? Does it matter what you do or think? What if you could hold a pen and piece of paper against the wind, what would you write about?

Assuming for the moment that someday your remains will be discovered, you could have something to offer the world with your writing - an intriguing thought. The writings of the first person to fall a thousand miles to his or her death would generate enough interest that people would surely read what you wrote. Would this eight hour journey provide some special insights? Could you share something that might help other people in some way?

Now consider if you had no pen nor paper. Death is coming and nobody will ever know what happened during these eight hours of falling. Does everything you think or do then become irrelevant? Most people would like to think that with even eight months left to live what we do matters. What about eight hours though? Do you try to live the "good" life for those remaining hours, and what would that mean? Having loving thoughts about others, or trying to see the bright side of life?

These ideas bounced around in my own mind for a while, and one question in particular came to mind more than once: What is the reason for morality or any decisions we make. Is an action or thought moral (or immoral) only on the basis of an expected or actual future result? There isn't much of a future when one is falling eight hours to one's death, so is there any moral significance to thoughts and actions that are in the moment, in the action itself - in this case as you fall to certain death?

It might be worth considering the metaphorical value of the above scenario too. What would be a "thousand mile deep hole" that we might fall into? Is there a new spiritual perspective to be gained in the process, with which we are "reborn" after the presumed death from the fall?

More About Crazy Ideas
Crazy ideas may come from unconscious places that are trying to show us something important or insightful. They are an opportunity to look at things from a new perspective. Imagine a new creature, for example, the "deniaphant." This is a being who is human-like but with elephant-like feet which are so large that he regularly steps on and kills people wherever he goes. That makes him very sad, so what is his solution to this problem? Simple - he just stops looking down when he walks.

A silly thought perhaps, yet it immediately suggests itself as a metaphor for what we humans actually do at times. We simple refuse to look at the pain and suffering we cause others, because that's easier than watching where we step. Develop the story of the deniaphant further and we might see what the consequences of such an approach are. We might even have some insight into what could be done differently. Stories and examples like these hint at the value of crazy ideas when they are explored with an open mind and a willingness to play with them.

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