Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
To what end?
“Albert Einstein, 1924 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, and Time Magazine’s Person of the Century.” This sounds a lot better than “Albert Einstein, 1879-1955, Patent Clerk.” Yet, that’s almost how things went.
Einstein had always wanted to be a mathematics and physics professor. However, his teachers did not think highly of him, so did not recommend him for a university teaching post when he graduated.
Einstein was profoundly unhappy and felt he had gone off track with his career. After two years of almost no work, a former classmate’s father helped get him a job as a patent clerk at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property in Bern, Switzerland.
Had that really been the end, we would perhaps to this day not know what we do about the nature of mass and energy, and connection between space and time. We would not have the advances we do in theoretical physics or be able to reap the benefits of its application.
Einstein did not let the fact that he could not attain (at that time) his larger goal of teaching at a university stifle his creativity. In fact, he used his circumstances for the exact opposite- to fuel his creativity.
In his time away from work, he continued to pour his creative energy into reasoning through complex problems in physics and writing papers. He also formed a small club that met weekly to discuss science and philosophy. As he became more efficient at his work, he had time left over to work on his own calculations and writing. He incorporated the knowledge he was gaining from patents for electromagnetic devises into his own work.
In later years, Einstein spoke of his time at the patent office as “that temporal monastery where I hatched my most beautiful ideas”.
He submitted his papers for publication, received his PhD, and after seven years as a patent clerk, accepted a position as a professor at the University of Zürich. And the rest is history.
While we will most likely never make the discoveries Einstein did, we can learn to apply his approach when our efforts at large-scale creative endeavours are frustrated:
– don’t put your creative energy on the back burner
– absorb creative ideas around you
– use your spare time to pour out your creativity
– find people to discuss your ideas with (this could be through blogging!)
– keep doing what you love even if it’s not in the way you thought you would
Besides, what better way to spend your time than to keep being creative!
She stands at the platform, shoulders slumped, bags dropped at her sides. The metallic mass fades farther and farther into the distance until nothing but track remains.
There is no one to argue with, no one from whom to demand a refund.
There won’t be a second chance to audition, no second chance to play the lead.
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