Back in the good ole’ days of 400 B.C., Plato profoundly said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In that little philosophically reflective way he had, Plato was, of course, absolutely right on target.
Throughout our lives, we all at one time or another have found the necessity of inventing a makeshift pronto plan to help us glide over a human flaw. There is typically inevitable laughter that can occur after our clever invention. Look at it as a feel good laugh! I suppose in these types of circumstances, we must guffaw at our flaw. The pressure only adds to our capacity to invent an even more ingenious quick fix on the spot.
When I was in high school, our class sponsored a play based on John Knowle’s book, “A Separate Peace.” The main character in the book is Phineas. He falls down a flight of stairs in the very first chapter. Make note: He does not die from the fall…at least not yet anyway. According to the text, Phineas actually meets his demise at the very end of the book. There are many other chapters in between to digest and enjoy. Our class spent countless hours practicing and costumes had been meticulously sewn.
Make note: We were about 10 minutes into the two-hour play when Phineas’ friend comes out on the stage and mistakenly announces the sad news that Phineas had died. It was a flaw to which a multitude of people were privy. What were we to do? The play was essentially over since the main character had been accidentally killed off for good. The narrator considered flipping to the end of the book and winding up the whole mess. How was she to know that behind the curtain an ingenious plan was being orchestrated by a panicked class, in order to continue on with the play?
Now picture this: The curtain opens. The obviously well-read audience had figured out the dilemma and they were waiting in eager anticipation to see how the class would dig themselves out of the colossal jam. Phineas, who only moments before had been pronounced dead, was being rolled on the stage in a wheelchair. Gasps could be heard throughout the audience.
Phineas’ friend turns to him and says, “I thought you were dead!” Now, here is the best line ever spoken in an impromptu cure-all “wingin’ it” style format. He says, “Oh you know how that doctor kids!” Pure genius at its best! The crowd howled with laughter at the cleverness. The play continued on without a hitch. Of course, the retelling of the story generated a lot of laughter…the kind that is good for your heart and soul. Plato would have approved.
I survived another human guffaw by when I was playing the piano one Sunday morning for the church service. My instructions for that day had been to play a pleasant, little interlude after the minister said, “Let us pray.” But there was a kink thrown in that day. There was a christening being performed and the service was ever-so-slightly different. “Let us pray” is said many times during this type of service.
I, however, began playing after the first, “Let us pray,” only to discover that it was inappropriate timing for a melodic interruption. The choir director turned to me with a panicked look on her face. She held her hand up in front of my face and softly whispered in a firm tone, “Stop right there!” (Did I detect panic?) Sensing the need for a necessary fix, I glossed over the mishap, by inventing a brand new chord that would have made Bach roll over in his grave. It did, however, provide for another funny story in the retelling with accompanying laughter.
Plato knew of the merit behind his quote. In each case, it was imperative that we became the “mothers of invention” out of necessity.
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