Breaking Free

April 11, 2019, SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The sentiment is mine. (Photo credit: SpaceX)

I admit it’s possible to discover something accidentally. Take bacteriologist Dr. Alexander Fleming, for example. In 1928, he returned to his lab after a vacation in Scotland to discover a mold called Penicillium notatum had contaminated his petri dish colonies of Staphylococcus aureus, and was preventing its growth.

“When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did.” Dr. Alexander Fleming

Of course, Dr. Fleming had already studied bacteriology, so while it may be possible even you and I could accidentally discover some new scientific fact, if we don’t have the underlying knowledge, if we don’t know the rules, our discovery probably won’t make much of an impact on the world.

But for someone who has the knowledge and knows the rules of their field, like, say, art or agriculture or aerospace engineering, the rules can be a springboard into new understanding and advances.

“You have to know the rules before you can break them with purpose.” Me, reflecting on what little wisdom I’ve been fortunate to stumble into.

I lament the passing of my generation’s defiant motto: Question Authority. We didn’t believe the rules weren’t meant for us or that there shouldn’t be any at all. We wanted to know why they were rules and what would happen if they weren’t. Could we get along more peacefully if some of the rules were different? Like desegregation. Or Congressional term limits. Or decriminalizing pot. (Legalizing marijuana was only a pipe dream back then.)

Today, it seems too many people simply believe the rules don’t apply to them. We can see examples of the resulting chaos in any city that harbors those solar powered scooters as helmetless scofflaws ride them in the wrong direction on one-way streets, or cross multi-lane streets mid-block or against red lights. We can see that chaos in any government that denies reality, espouses ignorance, and ignores the Rule of Law.

Where will we go from here? To Mars? To a nation of healthier, better educated citizens? Or will we remain stuck in a man-made quagmire, clawing the mud to keep up with the rest of the world?

I know what I want. I’m watching for people who know stuff and understand the rules well enough to think beyond them. Those are the people who will launch us forward. Those are the people who can make a large-scale, positive impact on the world.

Clifton Meets Andre

Glad you could join us for the next pollinated episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

Elliot 190
Photo credit: Heinz-Peter Bader

News that every wasp and vole had enlisted in the Alliance army influenced others to attend their own tribe’s meeting. Even the solitary amphibians, intrigued by the charismatic Lieutenant Terrance’s stature, were eager to learn more. Almost everyone signed up. By sunset, the Alliance army comprised every tribe except the Hiverarchy of Free Bees, who were now Clifton’s challenge.

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Zen There Was One

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Elliot Z
Photo credit: dreamworlds.ru

The moon had climbed only a branch or two higher in the tree when Yvonne returned with dinner to find Elliot cleaning dried blood from a slash on his girlfriend’s neck.

Looking away, she patiently reminded herself that her own savory kill still dripped from her talons, and she lay a beakful of mold-garnished leafy greens and a spongy-plump mushroom at their feet. Then, because that suffocating need to show well had woken from its long sleep, she couldn’t stop herself from discreetly tossing tufts of fur and shards of bone down to the charred forest floor.

Resentment simmered in her veins.

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Yvonne

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Elliot Y
Photo credit: wallpaperup.com

The skeletons in bird’s memories weren’t as easy to dispose of as those that littered her life, but she shook them to the dark bottom of her mind with a noisy, full body feather ruffling.

“I beg your pardon. Where are my manners?” she asked with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Welcome. I’m Yvonne. And you are—?”

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Xanadu or Die

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Elliot X
Photo credit: Cheri Perry

“Well?” The fierce predator blinked repeatedly, her flaming eyes flashing off and on in the dark. It was an intimidating effect she had perfected over the years to capture the attention of many broods of squabbling owlets.

The two tiny gastropods embracing in her nest pulled apart with a slight sucking sound. The larger one addressed her with a polite bow.

“Please accept our sincere apologies for dropping into your inviting… uh, Xanadu, uninvited. You see, we have just escaped the clutches of a deranged evangelist, and must have taken a wrong turn in our haste. We are the unwitting victims of gravity.”

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What the –?

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Elliot W
Photo credit: Jamie MacArthur

“Plummeting is not an altogether unpleasant sensation,” Elliot thought as they fell into the chilly night. “If I didn’t know how it has to end, I might be enjoying it.” He was beyond panic, and the sight of Cassandra tumbling beside him left him feeling only regret.

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Vicious

Glad you could join us for the next vexing episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

Elliot V
Photo credit: Lee Daniels

Humiliated and furious, the Holy Man of the Holy Mansion took a howling swipe at Cassandra, slicing her neck with his jagged arm.

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