Doing Something You Love

for the week of December 17, 2001
by Rubel Shelly

Dean Kamen has made a name for himself with quality-of-life inventions. The New Hampshire genius created a portable kidney dialysis machine. He later invented a wheelchair versatile enough to climb stairs and stand on two wheels. Someone recently called him a synthesis of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

Now the world is waiting to see if Kamen's latest invention will live up to the hype surrounding its introduction. The Segway Human Transporter is a two-wheeled, self-propelled scooter that can travel at about 12 mph. Five gyroscopes monitor a rider's center of gravity nearly 100 times a second and both keep you balanced and sense the direction you wish to travel by the way your body leans.

I don't know if it will revolutionize the world. Experts are saying the intuitive technology of the Segway HT's gyroscopes could have far-reaching applications for things ranging from vehicles to artificial limbs. A mechanical device that can copy the balancing function of the human inner ear is quite a technological feat.

But enough already about "IT." I'm more interested in its human inventor. The man who concocted a vehicle that he says is "like a pair of magic sneakers" attributes the inspiration for his work to his father. "Pick something you love and make it your life's work," Kamen's dad told him. What wonderful advice.

I fear that most of us settle for mediocrity. Children are creative and tend to dream of things that will change the world. Put them under the tutelage of our typical educational system, however, and the ability to dream of life-changing, world-influencing, people-bettering things will be wrung out of them pretty quickly.

What about your life? If you begrudge your prosaic and conventional life, I challenge you to rethink not your life situation but your attitude toward it.

Creativity isn't just for the entrepreneurial engineers who invent things. It is for those of us who have 9-to-5 jobs, sell widgets, and count beans. It is the contagious spirit of those vibrant souls who are always dreaming, trying to find a better way to do the everyday things. It is the courage to be in the minority. It is living a daily spiritual adventure whose goal is to honor God in everything you do.

Surely this was at the heart of Paul's counsel: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). If you are bored or boring today, it likely will be nobody's fault but your own.

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