Archive | July, 2013
Aside

On Twister and Not Following Your Dreams

14 Jul

Charles Foley is the one on the left.

Charles Foley is the one on the left.

Charles Foley, one of two inventors of the game ‘Twister,’ died on the first of July. The MSNBC news blurb caught my attention on this past Thursday. It has been on my mind since, but certainly not because I ever liked playing Twister. I like games which make it very clear how to win, and whether you have won or lost. In my grade school experience with ‘Twister’, there were entirely too many grey areas that knees and elbows would find themselves in, without elimination of the knee’s or elbow’s owner from the game. I was a competitive 7-year-old, yet too shy to question people when it seemed clear their last contortion had not worked out. And so for me the game was an endless rotation of re-positioning oneself without even getting to count it as exercise.

I believe the reason Foley’s death caught my attention is because he made very little money off of the invention, yet according to his son, Mark, Charles didn’t feel cheated. He had begun inventing at the age of eight, by creating a locking system for the cattle pen at his grandfather’s farm, and died with 97 patented inventions to his name. But ‘Twister’ was, by leaps and bounds, his most memorable invention, and he didn’t even care how little he reaped from it. He just liked inventing, particularly in the realm of kids’ toys and games.

As Americans, we live in a confusing culture that initially promotes the concept of “doing what we love” (think back to your overly optimistic high school counselors).  But we then get slapped in the face when we discover that the money doesn’t always follow. I chose to be practical, and majored in engineering mainly because I wanted a job, and I like making money. And to be perfectly candid, I sometimes wonder if doing what I love, as a living, would make me not love it after all.  Currently, I work as a process engineer at a small plant in Jackson, MS. At that plant, we manufacture the base media that goes into liquid filters. I like my job, and I’m grateful for it, but I do not go to bed at night eagerly anticipating returning to work the next day.

I guess I was initially jealous of Charles Foley. Maybe the news posts I read over-glamorized his career, or omitted periods in which he wasn’t having fun coming up with novel twists on toy helicopters and darts. Or maybe he was just a happy, passionate guy who happened to be gifted in an area that lends itself to a more interesting obituary.

But my final conclusion is that it’s perfectly OK to NOT do what you love. If you have a general appreciation for life, you will find aspects of your job that are worthwhile. I am an angst-ridden 24-year-old who creates a different career goal on a day-to-day basis. But the truth is as long you have a job with challenges and growth opportunities, it’s good for you! Yes, I will continue creating escapist plans, and may even shed a few tears of frustration from time to time. But work wouldn’t be work without irritations, mundane aspects, and difficult people. And if I can do my job well, with those less appealing aspects in place, then maybe there’s no need to envy Mr. Foley. Maybe I should just celebrate navigating my way through sticky situations, because I think that’s the secret to being happy in the workplace. If you’re still not convinced, please hop on over to Penelope Trunk’s blog post on the same subject. It’s refreshingly spunky!

Linking back to Foley’s knack for inventing, I present a challenge to you: how would you re-purpose leftover tiramisu? Google’s answers to this question are far and few between. I have some leftover tiramisu that I would prefer not to eat in its tiramisu-form. My idea was to make crepes, then top them with the creamy, non-cookie layers of the tiramisu (I’m sure any Italians reading this are cringing at my loose terminology). However, what I am really looking for is a recipe concept that would re-purpose all layers of the tiramisu, in one new dish. Please, please, please send me any and all ideas you have! They can be as quirky as you wish.