Invention and creativity

The humble barb wire fence has come a long way since its inception. On the face of it, there is nothing unusual about its design. The basic premise is two sets of wire rolled together and intertwined, leaving sharp bits exposed. There are obviously inventions that are more complex than that, but perhaps the barb wire fence has an advantage in this because it achieves what it does using very little. And what exactly does it achieve? Well, it keeps out intruders and more importantly demarcates an area of property which is private.

The fence was invented in 1876 by John Gates, who soon earned the nickname “Bet A Million” Gates. He was known not because he was fond of playing the EuroMillions, but because he used to accept wagers on the strength of his fence. He would rustle up Texan longhorns and round them up in the fragile looking fence, and take wagers on whether the animals would be able to break out of the enclosure. The fence went on to breathtaking success. In 1880, a factory in America turned out 32 miles of barbed wire. Six years later, the figure had risen astronomically to 263,000 miles of wire!

John Gates’ moments of inspiration, he would claim, often came when he was not focussed on hard data and clinical tasks, but when his mind was operating at an optimal “hum” – engaged but relaxed at the same time, but beneath the level of consciousness. It is the same as musicians such as piano players – they must manage the scientific data of reading music and deciding what to play, while managing the emotional fine tuning through what they hear. The Piano Teachers N4 website claims that learning the piano will develop the multi-tasking skills and sometimes frees your mind for creative solutions to things you might not have though of. Why not give it a try?

Resolution and Motivation

How do you motivate yourself to do something? For some, it may be the threat of physical punishment. For example, if you don’t do something, you get punished. This form of punishment is very common in schools, where teachers use the threat of detention to coerce students into behaving properly. “If you don’t keep quiet, you are going to spend all the time you have wasted in this lesson staying in during the break time. If you waste twenty minutes of this lesson, I will make you waste twenty minutes of your lunch hour!” Outside of school, of course, adults are withheld pay or privileges if performance falls. Many working adults face being fired if they do not meet targets set by their employers, but that is another story for another day.

What if you wanted to make yourself do something you would normally not? This activity may be something like going for a run, living more healthily, or making some changes for the better. Usually the reward in itself may be enough to justify finding the willpower to do so, such as being more healthy if you could only just kick yourself out the front door to go running. But if that is difficult, giving yourself a reward may also be an option. For example, if you dislike running very much – or any form of sustained physical exercise – going out for a run and then telling yourself you’ve earned the chocolate bar for tomorrow because you’ve burned off the calories may be one way of doing so.

So it is a new year and the time to live positively.

The classical composer Camille Saint-Saens is known as a serious composer, but he seized the opportunity to try something new by writing Carnival of the Animals, a light-hearted piece, on a whimsical new year’s resolution. (Read more about it here from the Piano Lessons Crouch End website.) It turned out to be one of his more famous works!

Let that be your new year motivation!