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Stony Brook Innovation Center Blog

Resurrection Innovations

May 05 2017

The most helpful topic for an Innovation Center blog would seem to be examining whether innovativeness can be instilled in people the way installing computer programs enables us to do different things, and if so, how is it downloaded, or learned?  Is there a single Skill Set underpinning all the other attributes that are identifiable in the majority of innovators, short of the few savants floating around, and even there?  Do innovations like the light bulb and Internet arise out of nowhere, or evolve as species do: putting similar things together again and again, and how is that done?  



                                                            For nothing can be sole or whole
     That has not been rent.
                                                                        “Crazy Jane Talks With the Bishop,” W.B. Yeats

       

There’s a quantum difference between forgiveness, where a couple of posts ago ended, and rising anew from the ashes it leaves.  Much is written about businesses reinventing themselves and people renewing their faith in themselves, but little I’ve found in reading many of what are considered major authors in business circles, addresses reinventing oneself and one’s relationships, in a similar vein as reinventing businesses is examined.  Leadership books are almost a genre unto itself, but there again, the focus is on the factors, not the person. 
Too many of my phone conversations with my beloved sons, for some time, ended with the heartbreaking feeling that they dreaded talking with me.  Managers can feel the like without remorse because their position protects them, and they may not care as much about how their subordinates feel about them.  They said and did things in ways I objected to, like mumbling too fast on the phone for me to hear, so I had to ask them to repeat what they said repeatedly, then faulting me for being hard of hearing, which they’ve known all their lives, and it turning out that their phones were on speaker, so they could do three other things while we spoke.  The Biggest Problem was a constant propensity to object to what I said, with no grounds for doing so, just unsubstantiated sweeping statements, then blaming me for having to do everything My Way, despite the recent evidence I reiterated to the contrary.  As Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young sang it in “49 Bye-Byes” back when I was around my sons’ age, “We had fences to mend.”
I
 told them several times before the big vacation I described two posts ago, during Easter week in Olympic National Park, following a conference I was attending in Portland for a book I was publishing, that I wanted to devote some time during the vacation to getting back to how well we used to get along.
Strangely, when I broached the subject our first dinner at one of the lodges in the park, they both remembered how we got along altogether differently than I had, so I mentioned a section I was writing for a novel about my father’s life on the fringe of the mob as an IRS agent, how a preponderance of bad memories with my mother eradicated any good ones there may have been, so likewise may have happened in reverse with my memories of them, and had to ask why then they had toasted me our last supper before we left for an illustrious college on full scholarships, for never once browbeating them to study this or practice that to get there.  In my mind, their memory was a patent fabrication to justify their present rancor. The engineer with two Ivy League degrees missed his flight to join us, since he had shorter vacation time, and I didn’t say boo about losing a day after all the planning we’d done to make the most the time we had, on the way from Seattle instead of Portland the following day.  He and his brother bickered on and off in the front seats of the van I rented, the whole way there, the same way they did with me.
I
 posited after being challenged about how things were during dinner, as you may have guessed if you’ve been following the blog at all, that the root of our difficulty lay in not formulating information for each other properly, to begin with, with illustrative anecdotes and analogies, putting the matter at hand in perspective with situations like it, on which we already agreed.  We were trapped in a texting modality, which didn’t work in person.  They disputed it and reverted back to the My Way position, so I pointed out that we’d already been hiking on trails THEY’D chosen and plotted out the next few days’ adventures THEY’D chosen, without a single disagreement from me.  Their impedance not only diminished the meaning of everything we said but our relationship, the same way that impedance in a sound system not only diminishes the fidelity of the music but your relationship to it.
We’d had dinner late the first two nights, out on fantastic trails among the largest firs and spruce trees in the world, crossing bridges over large streams plummeting down gorges, and such.  The third one, my companion of ten years didn’t join us because she felt manipulated into it, against her usual eating habits, and missed the last serving, so it was a bad scene all ways around by the next evening. 
The Lake Quinault lodge restaurant entrance is a few steps from the large porch off the back of the huge, high-ceilinged, hundred-year old lobby.  My sons and I were on the porch when my gal walked past to the restaurant, so I followed her in, to find that she was going for dinner.  No one else was in the restaurant yet.  She asked if we have a reservation.  I told her you don’t need one when it’s empty.  The imminent question was whether to get a table for two or four, but by the time I went back to the porch, my sons were gone.  I checked the pool and our room, then saw them on the great lawn between the lodge and the lake, in wooden lawn chairs, and asked imperiously if they wanted to join us.  They did, and we tried to make the best of it, despite my gal’s misery over the entire situation, and after noshing on appetizers, we wound up having dinner with her, after hemming and hawing about coming back again later.

We witnessed some miraculous things, besides THE largest fir and spruce trees in the world, like a double rainbow, the end of which seemed to paint the trees it landed on in the foothills green, purple, blue, red, and yellow, and a whole herd of elk right beside the road, with a baby calf and big buck side by side.  Even that didn’t heal us, though.  The constant arguing continued, unrelented.
In the immortal words of Paul McCartney, I let it be.  The first time they pushed back on a suggestion out of hand, after that, I reiterated my unabated, unbounded love for them, adding that it needs to be reaffirmed from time to time, like prayer, and in fact IS a prayer, a fond hope.  The more I prayed that, out loud, the more apparent their foolishness was to them and began to subside.  Who knows, though?  Maaaybe all my haranguing about The Process sank in when I stopped pushing it, facilitating their return to our old ways, perhaps even unbeknownst to them.
My cup runneth over.



Stony Brook University Innovation Center, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3775

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