No Idea

Every idea you have has already passed through the neurons and synapses of at least one other person. I don’t know whether it’s bio-chemical or if ideas are like the water cycle, the same stuff going up or coming down in different forms. The truth is that the last original idea was for sliced bread.

I suspected it when I first learned about Post-It Notes. I (and a million other people) had often thought how nice it would be if there were way to attach notes to surface. My solution was to carry tape everywhere I went, which didn’t always work out because I usually couldn’t find anything to write on.

There are no original thoughts. Google has proved it to me.

As I was putting my deodorant back on the shelf this morning, setting it down next to my pills, I thought, “Why doesn’t somebody make deodorant in a pill form?” You could swallow it, and it would make your sweat smell good — the way garlic makes you smell bad. Perfume in pill form.

I Googled it: perfume, pill. Someone else has already thought of it. Nobody has a patent on it or anything, so I could still become famous for inventing it, but I don’t feel nearly as ingenious now that it isn’t a new idea.

There’s even a web site devoted to this sort of thing. If you ever think you’re having an original thought, go to Half Bakery and have a look. You will be humbled.

If I Google ‘no new ideas,’ how many hits do you think I’ll get? I don’t want to know. If I start doing that, I’ll find out that everything I’ve ever written is a cliche, and I’ll have to find some other way to waste time.

There used to be a game we played with Google: type in two words (real words, not made-up words), and whoever gets the fewest hits wins. Could anyone think of two words that would get no hits at all? Before Google took over the world, perhaps. Anymore, it is impossible. There are no two words that have not been used together. Even if you think you’re making up a word, Google it. I guarantee someone has already defined it.

I have a better idea. Instead of searching for new ideas, let’s resurrect some ideas that are so old that everyone has forgotten them.

Like papyrus, for example; let’s stop killing trees, which are nice for shade and treehouses and things. Papyrus grows much more quickly than trees. And nobody has picnics in swamps, which is where papyrus grows.

Iceboxes are an old idea that is also eco-friendly. If refrigerators are really killing the ozone layer, a return to using ice to keep things cold would be a big step forward. And the daily delivery of blocks of ice would employ a lot of people.

I’m out of ideas for now. Time to go work on a different cliche.


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