The Most Dangerous Ideas
The most dangerous ideas are the ones that can’t be executed.
“I’m thinking about writing a book,” you may have said to your friend over lunch. Or you may have thought that you should go back to school or have a baby as a single person because, gosh, we’re all getting older and there’s not much time left, so better have a baby. Right?
Let’s start at the very beginning. Let’s define what an idea is. If we think about an idea as a seed, we can start to imagine what that might look like if it grows. Suddenly, we’re caught up in daydreams about swinging from branches and sharing the fruits with our grandkids and partners when we’re old. We envision a sturdy trunk with lush branches that cast shade in which we’ll lie and live and love.
That is one sexy tree.
No but seriously. Sell me the tree and I’m ready to buy. I’m with you on that vision. I want branches and shade and fruit and love and a trunk to carve my name into. Yes! Give me the tree!
Except you don’t have the tree. You have the seed. And the seed needs the right soil. And the seed needs the right light. And the seed needs the right water, and time and protection. The seed needs you to work and wait, and work and wait, and nurture it. Or it will never be the tree.
So now back to your book. Or your grad school. Or your idea to have a kid. Or let’s get real: the idea to not let Muslims into the US, or to build a wall across the Mexico border. These ideas are all incredibly dangerous. These ideas are selling us the tree and ignoring the costs.
We often climb up trees and swing from their metaphorical branches, basking in the shade and fruits they bring without thinking about the years of time, the hours of labor, the care that went into its growth.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s the tree that ironically fuels the work of the seed. It’s the dream of the fruit that propels us to water and nurture, whispering encouraging thoughts to our seed, making sure it grows strong.
But don’t forget about all that work, all the cost that goes into an idea to make it not an idea anymore, but a thing. Turning an abstract concept into something you can touch and see and feel. That’s where the magic is and that’s why we keep creating. The power and magic that comes with turning nothing into something is the force that makes us go back to the studio, to pick up the pen, to buy another notebook, to stay up late and get up early. That’s where the magic is.
Just remember that the idea isn’t THE thing. It’s not even a thing. It’s the seed that will lead you to the tree you’re dreaming of. So it’s great that you even have one to begin with. But remember that that’s a dangerous thing without a plan. Show me the shovel and the watering can. Show me the dirt and the fertilizer and the fence that will make your idea real.
Because if you want to swing from the branches, and you want to sell me on the shade and the fruit and the initials I carved into its trunk, I want to hear about the sweat and the dirt too.
Because without those, there is no tree.