Have you ever thought of a clever way of doing something around the house, and then once you got in the very middle of things, you discover it wasn’t all that clever, and you were about to fall from that chandelier and break your neck? Or explode?
Yeah. Me too. More than once.
We aren’t alone. There are all sorts of people who have actually perished while they were doing “what they did.”
This all started inadvertently this morning. I was reading about that very clever man, Aldous Huxley. He did not die from writing. Although, he was pretty brilliant. No, throat cancer slayed him. But what I didn’t know is that he died on the same day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Not only that, C.S. Lewis, another brilliant writer, died that very same day. He, of renal failure. Those were three tremendous losses in one day.
From there I ran into a story about the man of big, rugged trucks. John “Jack” Mack. He was the co-founder of one of North America’s largest makers of heavy-duty trucks. That Mack truck. At any rate, he died in a car accident, when his car collided with a trolley in Pennsylvania on March 14, 1922.
And then, of course, I thought about the Segway guy. His name was Jim “Jimi” Heselden. He had just bought the entire company from the U.S. Inventor of the Segway (Dean Kamen). Yep. So there went speedy Jimi, aged 62. Dying by Segway. He plunged into the River Wharfe while riding a rugged country version of the two-wheeled transporter. And he drove right off a cliff, fell 30 feet, right in to a river near his estate. That was back in 2009.
Plunging down into water made me think of the Hunley Submarine. Which is housed near Charleston, S.C. The inventor, Horace Lawson Hunley died during a trial of his vessel. The sub had already had one accident. But Hunley was going to take it out for a routine test, to work out some bugs. He went out as captain, with seven other guys. They never came up. But. The navy salvaged the submarine and put it back into use. That would be a real confidence builder, don’t you think?
But sometimes, it doesn’t matter, land or sea. If your invention is going to get you, it is going to get you. Take for instance, William Bullock (1813–1867). This guy invented the web rotary printing press. It worked like magic. But. Several years after its invention, his foot was crushed during the installation of a new machine in Philadelphia. And wouldn’t you know it. The crushed foot developed gangrene, and Bullock died during the amputation. That’s 1867 for you.
Then, there are the people who almost seem to be asking for. Such is the case with Karel Soucek (1947–1985). A Canadian professional stuntman. His bright idea? He developed a shock-absorbent barrel. And, to the world of entertainment and stuntmen, he decided to do a demonstration. Not just rolling the thing along. No. This involved the barrel being dropped from the roof of the Houston Astrodome. He died when it hit. I think he need more “absorber” and less “shock” in that barrel.
And sometimes, your own ideas scare the bejesus out of you. Like with Sylvester H. Roper, another inventor. He came up with the steam-powered bicycle. He was taking it out for a public speed trial. Going fast on steam. He died. Of a heart attack. But they are not sure if the crash caused the heart attack. Or, if he had a heart attack and then crashed. Either way, it all ended on a sunny day in 1896.
My point of this is. Bright ideas are only bright when the bulb is screwed in to the socket. And not the finger.
“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
“Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”
― Steve Maraboli
“I don’t think anyone ever gets over anything in life; they merely get used to it.”
― Douglas Coupland