/ @ade3
October 6, 2015

How I almost became a child millionaire

I wasn’t a monster, I just always had my ideas.

My mom used to pull weeds while I played in the yard. She would occasionally find worms and if I was lucky she would let me play with them.

I was under the impression that worms could regenerate if they were cut in half. One day mom was horrified when she found me playing with her good scissors next to a pile of worm parts. I thought I was creating life, but it turned out that this isn’t how worms are made.

I wasn’t a monster, I just always had my ideas.

As I got a little older I became aware of money. The cicadas were a plague that summer. I managed to convince my mom to give me a penny for every cicada I killed. The forest would be quieter and in exchange I could earn some pennies.

It took hard work, but one hundred bug crunches later and I had earned my first dollar.

I wasn’t a monster, I just always had my ideas.

Having money was always better than spending it. There was great pleasure in folding a bill up, placing it in my wallet, and feeling the weight in my back pocket.

I can’t remember what happened, but somehow I ripped a dollar bill and I lost a big chunk of it. I was pretty upset. A dollar is a lot of money to a kid.

Imagine my joy when an adult told me that I could take the torn dollar to the bank and they would exchange it. Coming home from the bank with a crisp brand new dollar I remember being so relieved. There was good in the world.

Not too long after the exchange I found the missing chunk of my original bill. A light bulb went off in my tiny little brain. I could exchange this piece of money for another dollar! I knew enough about multiplication by that age to realize that I was going to be rich.

I had beaten the system. It seemed so simple. I imagined tearing up dollar bills and exchanging the halves. One dollar became two. Two would became four. I would work up to Lincolns and Hamiltons. Once I got to Benjamins I could probably hire someone to tear up the bills for me. Then again, I wasn’t sure I could trust anyone with my secret plan. No, I would have to do this all by myself.

There would be obstacles to overcome, obviously. The banks would get suspicious. I would have to rotate from bank to bank to avoid calling attention to myself. It dawned on me that there were only a few banks in town. I needed a way to travel from city to city. My scam for bank robbery would have to wait until I could drive.

I wasn’t a monster, I just always had my ideas.

By the time I was 16 I had either forgot the plan or realized it would never work. It was my first get-rich scheme but it wouldn’t be my last.

The pattern of my life has been following one crazy idea after another. There was the ghost detector, Font Burner, a camera made of Legos, and an art show involving Jesus and an American Flag. I have been caught taking photos in dumpsters and scolded for screen printing on public buildings. I create Wordpress plugins, chess apps, and books about zombies. Some ideas fly, others not so much. No, I am still not a millionaire, but that’s not the goal. The joy comes from chasing the wild ideas.

Unfortunately, the older I get, the harder it is to pursue my crazy ideas.

I write a lot about creativity and that might be a good definition. Creativity is having the guts to pursue your craziest ideas. It isn’t a special power. We all can do it.

I recently received a mass email where the author said,

“I am not a creative person. I am certainly no artist! I don’t have the ability to build things. I am just not a creative type.”

It broke my heart to hear someone disown their greatest ability. This isn’t an uncommon sentiment. Creativity is risky, we all feel it. Our culture loves to disembowel anyone with the guts to put their crazy ideas out there. Your work defines you and if your ideas don’t conform then you could be labeled a monster. Don’t let that stop you. Just smile and say proudly,

“I am not a monster, I just have my ideas.”

Hey, thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post you might like In the future everyone will be creative for 15 minutes or my Art of the Living Dead series. Stay creative.

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