I’ll admit it. I have a problem. The Week. It’s the “Best of U.S. and International Media” that arrives at our office, compliments of a colleague. Once I spy a copy, I disappear into the comfort of my favorite coffee shop and devour its contents, savoring each morsel of news as if it were fine chocolate—or a forbidden Playboy. Yes, The Week, is that good!
Currently, I must blame The Week company founder Felix Dennis and a writer named Ashlee Vance for filling my head with delusions of grandeur thanks in part to her November 15, 2015 article, “A Modern Day Edison.”
From the moment Vance introduces me to Lowell Wood in the Last Word section, I am seduced. He isn’t just any man and this isn’t just any kind of crush.
Wood is a 74-year-old astrophysicist, computer scientist and self-taught paleontologist. He’s also an inventor who now holds 1,085 patents, which is one more than Thomas Alva Edison.
During the 1980’s Wood led the development for “space lasers” designed to protect the rest of us from Soviet Missiles. For the past decade he has been a paid thinker at Intellectual Ventures, a Bellevue, WA based tech and research firm.
Oh, how can I get myself into a position to meet this man?
I’ve always had a thing for the sagacious under-geek and Wood is no exception. When I get crushes, it’s not good. Shit happens. I need intervention.
I glance around my steaming cup of latte to ensure no one takes notice of the secret thrill I’m having reading about a rebel who drives a garbage filled clunker, who did not do very well in school, and who gets paid to think. I want to be paid to think too. Well, I am paid to think…but I’d like to expand my horizons.
Enter my husband.
Rather than wallow in the heartache of unrequited intellectualism, I talked with my husband. He listened patiently as I confessed the motivation Wood inspires within me due to his “rainforest of ideas”.
“You’ve met a counter-part,” said my husband. “You should contact Lowell Wood. You read, you think, you do and perhaps he can direct you to a place where your writing can take root too.”
Okay—those were not my husband’s EXACT words but it was something close. I was typing and half-listening, yet appreciative of his ability to hear me.
As I considered my inspirational crush, I realized Wood’s life was a mental push over a bridge of inspiration that I needed to give life to the human spirit through stories. But who am I to write books? Or to put myself on par with a man such as Wood—or anyone else of influential status? And that’s the point—I don’t want to be anyone else except the best “me” possible. And just as we all have skeletons in our closets we’re also blessed with blank canvases or blinking computer screens waiting to be filled with great works of art.
I’m often ignorant—a slow bloomer. I doubt. I have insecurities. But I have strengths too—and have been able to forge a truce with the negative voices in my head while also befriending the dancing skeletons in my closet. Together, we build hope.
Wood appeals to me because he is genuine. I’m aware I have not yet “arrived”. Thankfully. Once you “arrive”, there is no more journey—no more to learn—the mind closes. There is so much more to think about, to write, and to do. Vance and Wood are now the centripetal force to my constantly rotating frame of reference.
Wood shares with Vance that it’s illiterate not to be optimistic and that there exists plenty of really great ideas left to be imagined. This is where I swoon because Wood encourages dreamers like me to think beyond the confines of our little terrarium called Earth.
“This is not something that’s hoped for, “ Wood shares with Vance. This is baked in the cake.”
I agree and I’ll take a big slice.