Friday, December 09, 2005

Ingenuity all around

Just got back home (through thick snowfall, that's New England) from a Chamber of Commerce meeting, and wanted to share something that just delighted me.

The Yellow Book guys were there, talking about their national yellow pages service. They pointed out that to the consumer, all yellow pages are alike—no one really cares about the brand. So someone asked, how do you ensure that yours is the one they pick up when they go to their bookshelf of phone books? The guy said, Well, we print in three columns. This makes the book thicker, but it also allows us to trim it slightly smaller around the sides. So, since most people stack books with the smallest height and length on top (irrespective of width), we're sure to always be on top.

The entire group applauded with delight! Me included. A simple, foolproof solution, obvious once you see it but so amazing anyway.

I'm fascinated with ingenuity like that. Like, who's the one who first put ink inside the pen? The invention of the elevator was not just about moving heavy things up and down—it also enabled us to have tall buildings. White boards, made for education or business, have revolutionized family communication, at least at our house. We have got a couple mini-white boards made out of foam that include a cutout big enough to fit over a door handle. I can leave my kids a note at the door if I'm not going to be home when they get in, and I'll know they'll see it right away.

Not to mention stickie notes, highlighters, spiral binding—just looking around my office I see a million things that if they hadn't been invented already, we'd have to invent them pretty soon, for I can't imagine living without them.

There's something "ah-ha" about a new, simpler, obvious design that directly meets a need we all have but hadn't solved yet. I love the diversity, the innovation, the creativity. It's like seeing spiritual qualities taking form before our eyes. The useful tools we have all around us are emblematic of divine Mind knowing what we need, and divine Love meeting that need.

Someone once asked Mary Baker Eddy how she felt about invention. Here's an excerpt.

"What is your attitude to science in general? … [T]he pursuit of modern material inventions?"

"Oh, we cannot oppose them. They all tend to newer, finer, more etherealized ways of living. They seek the finer essences. … We use them, we make them our figures of speech. They are preparing the way for us."

--First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany 345:7-30

So today I'm appreciating all the ingenuity I see around me. It's a fun little exercise. Just sit in your car or in your kitchen and look at all the doohickeys. Someone had an idea, and incorporated it into something that's blessing you.

See something cool? What are your favorites? Write in and tell me about it!

In the material world, thought has brought to light with great rapidity many useful wonders. With like activity have thought's swift pinions been rising towards the realm of the real, to the spiritual cause of those lower things which give impulse to inquiry.

--Science and Health 268:1-6


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