Friday, October 31, 2003

Here is a new idea I'm working on, and the story of how I arrived at it. I tell this story for the purpose of illustrating how I come up with ideas for

I was half-asleep when I had this idea. This is how I get most of my ideas - at about 5 am, when I'm half-asleep. So they are not necessarily good. Sometimes when I'm fully awake, I look at my ideas and wonder why I got out of bed to write them down. But this is my process.

So on this occasion, I was thinking about "chinese handcuffs." I don't know why. But anyway, they used to have these at the school carnival. They were one of many inexpensive prizes given out to the unsuspecting childen. This is how they work: It's a woven cylinder. You put a finger into each end, and when you try to pull them back out, the "handcuffs" will squeeze your fingers. The harder you pull, the tighter they get. You can only get out of them by pushing your fingers closer together, so that the cylinder loosens. (Or as the case may be, pulling REALLY HARD until the cylinder comes apart. But that option does not suit my purpose at the moment.)

I thought the "handcuffs" were a good metaphor for the way we sometimes find ourselves trying harder, only to find out that the way out of a difficult situation was to do something that seemed counterintuitive.

Here's the problem I have with this illustration: I don't want to call them "chinese handcuffs" because what if that's not politically correct? I guess it would depend on whether the Chinese invented this device or not. If they invented/manufactured them, that would make them seem very smart. But if someone else invented them, it's a racial slur. Of course, I'm not going to do any research to find out.

So I was left with this idea that I thought had some merit, but I didn't want to use. I began to look for another way to use the main point - that counterintuitive actions have their place. It took me a few days, then (again, while I was asleep) it hit me: Wedgies!

Wedgies are very difficult to deal with. Because if you try to get away, it's not gonna be good - sort of like those "handcuffs," only much more disconcerting.

It gets even funnier when you consider that some people may not even be aware when they are the recipient of a "cosmic wedgie". They just keep doing the same things, only with more determination. You can see right away that by comparing their current experience to a wedgie, a whole new level of understanding might be reached. Plus, the word wedgie is funny. Wedgie wedgie wedgie.

So that's what's on the back burner at - another moment of enlightenment, thanks, in part, to the Chinese.


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