The Beauty Of Never Ending Progress
So this morning I was out on my morning walk, like normal. And I came across this guy that was building this model airplane. Not just a regular model airplane that you build and put it up on your shelf. This was the kind that had an engine, and a propeller, and a remote control to fly it. It wasn’t quite like most remote controlled airplanes that you buy straight out of the box and send flying. This was the kind you have to build from the ground up.
I asked him now long he’d been working on it, and he said for a few weeks. He mentioned that he had flown other planes, the out of the box kind, but they didn’t quite give him the pleasure of actually building something from scratch, and then seeing it take off. He said the possibility of making a mistake is enough motivation to get him to focus on his project so he makes sure to put it together correctly.
I remember once I had this kid when I was a kid. It was a 75 in 1 electronics kit from Radio Shack, which is a chain of small electronics shops. You could build lots of things, from a simple light with a push button switch, to a lie detector, where you could actually hook up the electrodes to people and question them regarding there whereabouts on the night of August 17th, or whatever.
I seem to remember that at first, when I built simple things like the push button light bulb, it gave me a pretty quick sense of accomplishment, but it was short lived. After all, it only required hooking up three wires. Anybody could do that. The lie detector was a bit more complicated, and took almost an hour to set up the first time. After a couple of times, though, that became pretty easy as well, and didn’t quite give the initial satisfaction that it did the first time.
So of course, I moved on to bigger things. I tried taking my regular bedside lamp, cutting the plug that went into the wall socket, and running it through the switch. When I realized that it worked, I was amazed. I actually had built an additional switch into my bedside lamp. I tried it again with the strobe light circuit. And it worked. Now I had a strobe light in my bedroom. My mind spun with the possibilities.
Here I was looking at this kit, inside this wooden box with a built in circuit board that was supposed to be used only with the self-contained things in that kit. Nowhere in the instructions did it say it was ok to take normal, everyday object like a light and run it through these small circuits, but I did it anyway.
And it worked.
Thinking of this story reminds me of this book about evolution I was reading the other day. One of the many books by Richard Dawkins. Be careful of reading him if you are of any kind of a religious mind, because he makes it quite clear where he stands on that particular set of beliefs.
But what he was talking about in this book is the problem that keeps coming up among evolutionary biologists. Why did man become the predominant species on the planet? What was it about homo sapiens sapiens that made us be able to build cars and houses and waffle makers?
Many argue that one that humans have developed, that no others animals have developed is adaptability. We can (and have) survive; even thrive, in pretty much any environment. If you take a bunch of penguins or polar bears, and stick them in the Sahara desert, they won’t last long. If you take a sidewinder snake and put him on the North Pole, he’ll be dead in a few hours.
But humans are different. We have learned to adapt, to change, and to expand to match the size of our containers, until we break the container and expand even further. How else would some societies be able to dig holes and live in the sides of cliffs?
When you realize that your human potential comes pre programmed with the capacity to learn from, use and overcome your environment, you can gain massive amounts of clarity when it comes to facing the challenges of everyday life. The history of humanity is filled with examples of people meeting the challenges of their environment or situation, and overcoming them with incredibly innovate solutions, many of which eventually make it into mainstream consciousness.
If you look at a shark from a million years ago, they still swam around hunting in exactly the same way they do today. Prehistoric bees still made honey the same way they make it today. Humankind, on the other hand, seems to make huge progress with every generation, the current generation being no exception.
Even if you look at your own life, I’m sure you can find plenty of examples of things that you are more than capable of excelling at today, that you had no clue how to do only a short time ago. When you compare the skills you have today to only a couple of years ago, just imagine what you’ll be like five years from now?
After I had success with my bedside lamp, I tried to run it through the handheld speed control on my electric race care set. It was this track with cars that ran around it through this slot, which were connected to a hand held speed control. I wondered what would happen if I ran the hand held speed control through my Radio Shack electronics kit. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out so well. The first time I tried it, it literally burst into flames in my hand. I was dejected, but vowed to continue.
And the guy I saw on my walk this morning got pretty excited when he started telling me about this model airplane convention he is going to in a couple weeks. They’ll be a lot of like-minded people there to share new ideas and tips, as well as many vendors with the latest gadgets and accessories. It should be interesting to see what happens.