Imagine you make a blueprint for a futuristic vehicle nobody has ever seen before. I mean, there were vehicles before yours, but the one you created was different, better, an improvement on what was previously done. It was accessible. It was innovative. It was something old, but it was new. And you gave people the blueprint free of charge.

You eventually come to find out the car business is fucked up, though. And despite everything they offer you to make it, you say no. You leave. The world thinks you’re mad, crazy. You leave the business. Not only that, you leave the country. In the interim, everybody with even a little know-how takes your blueprint and mass produces the shit out of what you envisioned. You’re impressed. Perhaps you’re even a little jealous, envious of their ability to seemingly succeed in ways you feel you didn’t. You come back. While you’re still wary of the business you think “Maybe I can make it work now.”

So you go back into the business.

You make a prototype. People kind of like it, but they complain. 

“Nobody should drive like that.”

“You’re reckless.”

“That’s irresponsible.”

“Were you ever really as gifted as we thought?”

All this while they’re quite literally comparing your work to vehicles you drew the blueprint to build. But nobody’s going to remember you as an ingenious inventor. They’re going to remember you as a reckless madman, especially if you keep trying to make them realize it was you who created the possibility for the technology they so enjoy.

Besides, car accidents are the leading cause of death. And you seem fairly unconcerned, outwardly, about the dangers of reckless driving no matter how much you insist that this is how we learn to deal with danger and cope with it’s effects…not with fear, but with daring.  

They don’t hear it that way, though. To them you sound bitter and out of touch. Your only choices are to drive less recklessly, build a different kind of vehicle, or quit altogether with hopes that one day folks will see what’s always been there.

They will insist that the technology was beyond your reach and you left because you were out of touch rather than the alternative. 

Despite your inner knowledge and feelings you believe the part of their insistence you know is correct. But you always knew, you always felt it. The car business is fucked up. No matter what they offer you to make it you know saying no might make people think you’re mad, crazy. But them believing you’re crazy won’t make them hate you. It endears them to you, makes them beckon you from wherever you go off to back here to speak to them of innovation. You realize it was never wise to concede.

The invitation, even if earnest, was to confirm their suspicions about your madness more than genius. You’re either one or the other, after all. And all this is maddening. But you know better than most that by most standards madness is defined by the ability to see what others can’t, won’t, or don’t want to. And even when they tell you they do, if you do, and you’re not careful, they’ll hate you for showing them and have you believing your madness is of a different genre than it always was, deficient rather than prescient, for lack of rather than abundance of imagination.

The imagination business and the business of imagination couldn’t be more different. Imagine yourself knowing that. Now imagine not being able to say so knowing what you now know about the nature of saying such things.  

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A.D. Carson

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I'm just a little south of the Windy City...