If necessity is the mother of invention then accidents/mistakes are the really sweet step-mother. You never asked for her, but she can come in and cause something to emerge from you that you didn’t even know was present. To make my point, I will highlight just a few inventions that were created by mistake in my favorite order¹:
- Potato Chips
- Stainless Steel
I have been fascinated with accidental inventions ever since I received a book on the subject as a child. For years my favorite soap was Ivory, because I read in that book that their soap floats because of a production mistake. The thought that something useful could come out of something unintentional just amazed me. I applied that awareness to many things in life and concluded that what makes something an accident or a mistake is time, circumstance, and perception. For example, when the person who discovered Superglue did so, he was trying to create something completely different. He was actually annoyed by the stickiness of this unwanted byproduct of production. It wasn’t until years later when he was working for an entirely different company that the value of the substance hit him. Likewise, there are things that show up in our lives that may be unwanted at some point, but over time are revealed as a benefit to us and others.
Obviously we can’t follow this logic without thinking about the painful things in our lives for which there may seem to be no redeemable value. There are some horrible experiences that many of us have had and reconciling them can seem next to impossible. I am not discounting this. However, one of the things that I have witnessed is that nothing is irredeemable to the nature of Creation. This is revealed in the lives of people who have done horrible things and turned their lives around and survivors who went on to create organizations that have helped countless people to people who struggled with addiction and now support others in their recovery. Even technology that was created for destructive purposes has been redeemed for purposes that serve humanity and can continue to do so when we become more attuned to serving one another rather than always trying to protect ourselves.
Yes, sometimes it takes a while to see the redeeming principle take effect, but it is always there waiting for an opportunity to reveal itself. And I imagine that as more of us cultivate a redeemer’s mindset, we will more readily see those opportunities.
The song below was one I made for a church recently. I have never done anything like this before. It all came about because I used an old rap I did with a my cousin Zaki to connect with the youth at a different church–Second Baptist Church of Boulder. When I was headed to visit with United Church of Montbello, their pastor asked me if I would rap. At first I declined, admitting that I wasn’t really prepared to rap and that I hadn’t written anything in over a decade. He reminded me that I had rapped at SBC. Facebook strikes again. LOL. I thus decided to give it a shot. The lyrics of the song outline the songs unfolding.
When I wrote it and performed it at the church, I thought that would be it. I didn’t even record it. But after the performance some people from the church requested that I do so. I said I would try to find someone. The first person I called was a friend from church who as it turned out was just about to open a recording space. Consequently, the song came together and is presented here as symbol of how things come can come together unintentionally and lead to new things we never would have imagined. I don’t know if this post is the end of my journey with this song, but I will continue to appreciate the opportunities that come from encounters with Accidental Vision.
Enjoy it. Have fun. Shine your light.
¹Cyran, P., & Gaylord, C. (2012, October 12). The 20 most fascinating accidental inventions – Potato … Retrieved April 15, 2017, from http://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/2012/1005/The-20-most-fascinating-accidental-inventions/Potato-chips