A few weeks ago I had woken up very early and I had this STREAM of great ideas popping up in my mind, one after another, and I couldn’t fall asleep anymore.
What had happened? I had finished a magnificent book the day before, about the life of physicist Richard P. Feynman. Not another boring biography, but really a series of funny situations and adventures the guy had been in.
You see, this famous person not only helped to create the atomic bombs for the United States during World War II, but he was actually a most sympathetic man, making friends with a lot of people and taking up challenges with them, because that’s just how he was. He could not resist an unsolved puzzle.
The guy liked the thrill of picking the locks of safes in which the latest developments on the atomic bomb were stored, just to see the owner’s faces afterwards. He played drums overnight in the woods near the atomic bomb research facility, dressed up as a Native American. He also challenged a friend to teach him how to draw properly, in exchange for physics lessons. After a while he got his work selled, anonymously… And while staying in Brazil to give lectures, he played in a local samba band, ultimately performing on a Brazilian beach carnaval!
This book made me realize something. It got me writing this blog eventually. The idea is this: I got to understand that we all did amazing things once, when we were young, but as soon as we get older, there’s always a good reason for not doing anything anymore as crazy and fun as those “good old adventures”! And that’s such a shame.
Think of it: Mr. Feynman engaged himself in so much challenges, just for fun, and look at what he learned! It all began with fixing radios for family and neighbours and later he did school talks, reviewed school books, participated in army discussion boards and ethics conferences, took a first job in the chemistry industry instead of theoretical physics… So he became good at fixing radios, flirting with girls, understanding “professional gambling” tricks, lockpicking military safes, criticizing the government, drawing, bongo playing, speaking Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, and so on. Isn’t that amazing?
So… I forgot to play and fool around. When I was young, me, my brother and the neighbours made Indian bows and shot arrows straight over our house. We made “hide camps” in the nearby fields or trees. I experimented with Lego with my brother, and built a break-in alarm system in my room using Lego technics, aluminum foil pieces and some basic electric components. I learnt HTML and dreamt to create my own website – but found it too hard back then to actually do it. And I learned the basics of composing (classical) music in music academy.
But then the time comes that you become afraid of challenges (“I’m going to sit down and highlight the important things in this 567 page school book!”) and we tell ourself that we don’t have the time for all those mad aventures anymore. But it’s an illusion! We waste hours a day watching useless posts fly by on Facebook and watching TV quizzes and talent shows. You know what’s more fun? Developing a talent yourself!
That book of Feynman really opened my eyes. It’s never too late to experiment! Whenever you have a question or want to do something, just go for it!
There’s lots of blogs on the internet and mine will just add up to that. So I’ll mainly write some things to remember myself of these findings and not to fall back on the useful good reasons for not doing anything useful. And if I can convince other people on the way to fool around too, why not?
I’ve always wanted to become better at jazz improvising, create fun things with my Arduino electronics that I still have since I finished higher education, make my own 3D game, see new places, or play in a band.
Let’s embrace these ideas and play around!
(If you’d like to read this book too: it’s called Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!)