Cool title, right? No? It needs a lot of further explanation? All right, here goes.
“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist of creating out of void, but out of chaos”—Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Whether you prefer the stealer of Tesla inventions or the author of Frankenstein for invention quotes, you have to admit they are both right. Those of us who think creatively try with all our might and mind to take the wreckage life has given us and make something new. Preferably we make something that is good for us and improves our situation. But sometimes it turns out that it only makes matters worse and creates monsters of the mind.
When I was ten, I was sexually assaulted by a neighbor boy who was older and stronger and decidedly crueler than me. It split my world into pieces. I retreated into fantasy worlds and lived in my imagination far more than the real world. The monster in my memory was locked away in a tightly sealed forget-me box. I repressed the memory successfully until I was twenty-two. My creativity and inventiveness turned to fantasy art and fanciful fiction. I worked at having a good sense of humor, being a tough athlete on the high school football field, and trying to force people to accept me as the brainiac weird kid who always knew the answers in science class and could do practically anything except successfully talk to girls.
Surprisingly my greatest invention would turn out to be me. I reinvented myself.
I would’ve never believed when I was young that I was made to be a teacher. I lived inside my own head. How could I be a teacher and control a classroom and make people listen to the various shards of nonsense that I was completely full of? But, through gradual problem-solving, I learned to be an effective public speaker. I learned how to be an engaging presenter. I did a few magic tricks. I told more than a few jokes. Some of them were even funny. I learned how to put ideas in front of children in visual displays and organization charts. I learned how to teach people to read. And more than that, I learned how to teach people to learn.
I honestly don’t think I would’ve learned to do all of that if my childhood psyche hadn’t been broken and hidden away in brain boxes when I was ten. I might still have been an artist. But not the teacher and story-teller I ultimately became. Without the mountain to climb, a boy can never become a mountain-climber. Without a star to see and study, he can never be an astrophysicist. And without a brain filled with broken brain bits, a man can never learn how to put himself back together again, let alone teach others how to do it. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men are no help with this endeavor.
Have I now explained my terribly tilted title? Does this help you see how I have sung the songs taught to me by the Mother of Invention? Probably not. I am a rather dense little goof and the work of making me into me is not yet finished. I crashed and burned again a couple of years ago when I had to retire from teaching. I had to invent myself again as something new. I am certainly not done hitting the metal work with a big black hammer. But, perhaps, you can see the tool-marks on this blog and learn something from it too.