All You Need is an Idea
He was plagued with ideas. The man always found himself thinking. He was always having some thought brewing in the back of his mind. Good ideas, bad ideas, ideas on how to improve the world, ideas on how to destroy the world. Ideas woke with him like a partner to greet the morning, or waited for him in the bed like a lover. He was a man consumed by ideas.
A wise man once said “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” This was like a mantra to him. Whether he chose to acknowledge it or not. His life was governed by the pursuit of the next big thing. His vice was not drinking, nor smoking, or even gambling. His was a life of thoughts, images floating in the ether of his mind.
Almost none of these would ever come to fruition. It was because of this that people called him a lazy daydreamer. They would look at him and think to themselves. There is a man just wasting his life away, staring at the clouds. When in reality his thoughts were consumed, this was hardly a leisurely distraction for him. Far from it, this was an obsession.
He had tried to rid himself of the thoughts, the ideas. He had tried drugs, prescription and non-prescription, home remedies, illegal homebrews. Nothing could quiet his mind. The drugs just provided stranger and stranger ideas. Instead of being simple thoughts about daily life they would take a strange, darker more sinister turn.
The man knew however that his salvation and freedom from life’s daily grind lay in these thoughts. How was a man to be obsessed with examining all of the different perspectives of life, if not for a purpose, for a way to better the world, or at least better his place in it. He wouldn’t admit it in polite company, if he ever entertained guests, but he was not above simply coming up with a way to either beat the system or bend the system to his will.
This however would be his problem. He could look at a wristwatch and think of a thousand and one ways to possibly make the watch work smoother, but he couldn’t think of a single way to put these ideas into reality. Many sleepless nights were spent focusing all of his mental efforts onto a way of turning all his ideas into a reality. When it came to this, he would draw a blank.
He complained of this openly to his family and friends, this was at a point where they would still return his phone calls. They all told him different ways to get a grasp on his “wandering mind” as his mother so politely put it. Keep a notepad by the table, he kept one on his person at all times. Try a simple voice recorder. He had 5 of them, one in each room of his small apartment, and one in the car. This was to be the root of his true problems.
He would focus so much on holding onto one idea, one thought that it would become an obsession of his. He would try to meticuliously write it down, so nothing was lost in the translation from mental to physical. He would then take his notes and show them around. No one could ever make sense out of what he had drawn or explained. He would focus so hard on holding onto the idea that the root of it, the true essence would be lost. It was like seeing a face in the smoke of a flame, and then trying to pull the face out and hold it and examine it. As soon as his mind moved on, the idea would be lost.
The man, had had some good fortune in his life, he managed to pull enough out of a few ideas to have some small inventions made and he had several patents. It was enough to keep him afloat, after he lost his job. His bosses had always told him to stop daydreaming. He had had loves in his life, a few had even managed to stay with him for a while. They always left complaining he couldn’t focus on them long enough to have more than a simple conversation. Talk would turn to the weather, and then out would come the notebook and he would try to franticlly jot down ideas about a new weather satellite, or once he had even tried to come up with a weather control system.
Once he had gone to see a psychiatrist. He was trying to get the doctor to write him a prescription for something, but to no avail. The psychiatrist had actually wanted to talk to him and see what the root cause of his unhappiness was. After several appointments in, the man realized he was not going to get his prescription and told the doctor he would no longer be coming in. The psychiatrist tried to warn him about looking to the future, the horizon, your happiness doesn’t come from what is to be, but what is happening now. The man simply said thank you and left. The psychiatrist called a few friends of his who the man might try to go to for prescriptions and warned them of him. That was the end of the man’s quest for prescriptions to quiet his mind.
The man one day had decided he was tired of being “crazy” and decided that if he couldn’t do anything about the thoughts plaguing his mind that he was going to kill himself. Sadly, he was too distracted about all the possiblities of knot tying that he tied the noose incorrectly and just ended up with a damaged vertebrae and was in the hospital for several weeks.
The hospital proved to be a safe haven and a new level of hell. Because of the pain in his neck, they had him on a high does painkiller and sedation. For the briefest of times he was able to enjoy the silence without thinking of new ways to improve accoustics in his house or soundproof the walls, or how to make the neighbors timing belt run smoother. However, when he was pulled out of these states for talks to the doctors or therapy, he would enter an all new area of pain and discomfort. Not only did he have the physical pain of his bodies recouperation to deal with, but he also had a whole new world of devices and practices for his mind to work on. He saw the EKG machine in the next bed over of his shared room and thought of ways to make it more efficient or how to improve nurse response time. He was finally discharged when he was told his therapy was complete and there was nothing more the hospital could do for him.
The man tried to take solace in the lack of physical pain in his life, but that would eventually lead him to find new ways of thinking up preventive care medicine practices, and his whole cycle would begin again.
The man had finally reached the end. He could take no more, he thought about suicide again, but considering how the last attempt came out, he went against that. He sank deeper and deeper into a depression. He ceased going outside, he ceased bathing, he ceased doing much more than existing. He slept, he ate, he used the bathroom. His mind had broken, he was hardly aware of the passage of time anymore.
After some unmeasurable amount of time, the man finally passed away. His body was discovered after the neighbors in his apartment complex could no longer tolerate the smell. He was identified and his family gave him a simple service and burial.
One man came to the service who did not look like everyone else. He had the look of one who has truly lost something important. The family thought that the man was clearly in the wrong room, he looked like he had just lost his best friend, not some man whose mind had finally snapped, who had died with no friends or loved ones. This stranger gave his respects to all those present. He saw the hastily thrown together funeral with the few pictures of the deceased spread around the room. At long last the service began and the preacher asked if there was anyone who would like to say a few words about the deceased. The family all sat there quietly, they had barely knew him and had nothing to say.
The stranger stood up and walked to the podium. “I have something I would like to say” he announced.
“This man is your flesh and blood, but you hardly knew him.” He said looking to the small contigent of family. “This man was a genius and a tortured soul. He spent his entire life looking ahead, constantly trying to figure out the best way to get to that greener grass on the other side of the fence. I knew him, but for a few weeks, and I was amazed at the intellectual power this man had, but he thought of it as a curse. He was insulted when I refused to simply medicate his mind into a stupour. The last words I ever spoke to him was both advice and a warning. I told him to stop looking to the future for his happiness. For it is not the future of promised riches that makes a man wealthy today, it is not the hope of future loves that makes a man loved today, it is not the promise of a home that keeps a man from sleeping in the streets today. It is for today that one must live and love. Hope and dream for the future, but do not be consumed by it. We all today are gathered to pay our respects to a man that was consumed and obsessed by the promise of a better tomorrow. We must all remember that a better tomorrow begins today and that it is the bonds we share, the bonds we make and the bonds that break that define how our life is. Not the material wealth. We take what we are given. This man was blessed with an infinite curiousity matched only by that of a child. A gift that many of us fail to appreciate just how special it is. A remarkable man has been lost to us, but let us gain strength from the many ideas that he has passed on to us and left for us.”
The psychiatrist stepped down from the podium and took his seat again in the church. He could see that his words had some affect, the pastor was wiping his eyes as he retook the podium and finished the service.
After the funeral, the man’s mother approached the psychiatrist and offered him everything that had belonged to the man. “He was virtually a stranger to us, you seemed to know him better than his own family, this is a tragedy that we must deal with.”