Yesterday my post ended with, “If you want to innovate in any field, get intimately involved with the most innovative people in that field. “
Now comes the question: What can I do as an 82-year-old in a sybaritic town like Bend, Oregon, that will be innovative? When I lived in Berkeley, California, many people were doing innovative things in many disparate fields and I knew many of them. In the 1960s it felt like we were all embarking on great innovations and doing things that would have a worldwide impact, and as it turned out many of us were right. I lived there for fifty years and it was a constant question, “What fantastic thing have you discovered today?” That was the daily greeting when you met Burris Cunningham. The annoying thing about that personal greeting was that he meant it, and you knew he meant it, and no doubt everyone kind of groveled around trying to come up with something. Okay, maybe you could do that occasionally, but … everyday?! Ouch.
Bend is a wonderful town and the paper yesterday said it has the third greatest number of coffee shops per capita in the United States. I don’t know if that is true because I only go to two on a daily basis: Dudley’s and the Looney Bean, where I have great conversations. These places don’t come close to the Caffè Mediterraneum on Telegraph Avenue in the 60s, but I don’t either. There is an earnestness about many people here, and if these same people were living in a pressure cooker of ideas like the Med was back then, I expect that they would rise to the challenges. Here we don’t have a sufficient concentration of sparks to create a conflagration. It takes two to tango, but it takes a group of like-minded people to innovate. When there is a lull in my geriatric conversations I sometimes listen to the youth sitting nearby and they are often talking of setting up business ventures. The middle-age people are talking about their jobs and the recently retired about their kids’ successes and their own vacation trips to places we have all heard of.
I still like to talk about new ideas and new opportunities for human actualization.