As another Monday afternoon beckons, I sit at my desk with my voice recorder and near-empty cup of coffee and contemplate how I am going to fill the space allotted for my column this week.
Sometimes this proves more tricky than usual. I love my job, but ever since elementary school writing class I have been subject to that classic struggle of creativity -- what could I possibly write about that hasn’t already been written about at length? How can I provoke thought when so few thoughts seem to occupy my mind currently?
Thinking outside of the box is challenging while staring at the white text box inside my page design software window, another box contained inside a cubed computer monitor, which rests atop a rectangular tabletop inside an office containing four walls, a ceiling and a floor within a rectangular building located inside New Mexico, which is almost a perfect square. I suspect the universe takes the form of a giant box, containing life in all of its forms.
Somehow, despite the routine monotony that encompasses our days, thinkers will periodically shed their boxes and innovate. Accidents are often the catalysts of invention, as is reportedly the case with radiation, penicillin, vulcanized rubber, silk, popsicles and waffle cones. Think Isaac Newton getting hit in the head with an apple. Even though that is probably a mythical account, it lends itself to a very real tradition of people failing upward into discovery.
Other great substrates of ingenuity include perceived necessity and conflict. Our nation is largely believed to have taken shape amid tyranny that compelled our colonial predecessors to rethink methods of government, economy and warfare. The Internet came about because Americans were afraid of a Soviet attack on military communication lines. If not for the Cold War, we may not have bothered going to the moon.
With a seemingly endless array of threats and challenges facing our species today, many of which we have created ourselves, we are forced to hope that human capital, intelligence, is in enough abundance between some 7 billion people that we won’t remain standing shoulder-to-shoulder on this planet when our populations and sun explode, respectively. We may have some time left to worry about that, but our to-do list is longer than I would like to emphasize in order to avoid coming across as downright fatalistic.
Considering the adversity we have already faced in countless forms, from plagues to world wars, it is truly a wonder that we are still here at all. As individuals, we are told about the catastrophic unlikelihood of our existence, making our everyday lives seem nothing short of miraculous. Maybe my current bout with writer’s block is not such a big deal, then. I may be stuck inside the box for the time being, but it’s a pretty cool box to be stuck in.
Russell Anglin is the senior reporter at the Quay County Sun. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org