Why are sparks interesting?

Because in those tiny and simple things, there’s a lot more power than you might imagine.

By nature, sparks have the capacity to ignite, the power to transform whatever they touch. That’s what happens when you strike rocks or particles together. It works the same with ideas too.

Marie Curie had her scientific father (1). Gandhi had a train ejection (2, 3). The Wright brothers had a flying toy (4, 5). Muhammad Ali had Sugar Ray Robinson (6). Steve Jobs and Wozniack had a blue box (7, 8). A different spark for everyone but a similar outcome every time; someone’s imagination was lit up and that person then began to think “there might be a way to take on the challenge I’m facing, after all”. In what seemed impossible, before the spark, Marie Curie and the others now began to feel an impulse towards (what’s) possible, and acted on it. Enough so, that eventually impossible was made possible.

We all have such sparks and enlightening moments in our lives. The only difference is that some people decide to act on them.

Think of all the things we achieved and still accomplish, as humans, since our ancestors made their first steps on the African savannah, some 4 million years ago (9).

Most of these achievements being, without a doubt, the results of countless trials and fails but they couldn’t all just be pulled out from past experiences, gained knowledge or special genetics. Our ancestors had no Zippo lighter to start their fire or Google Maps to locate the closest mammoths’ hang-out spot around. Still, they made it through.

There had to be a few sparks along the way. The kind that produces an impact so strong on someone that, either consciously or unconsciously, that person decides to move forward, to go beyond an obstacle on its path. Simply because the benefits or positive outcomes expected seem greater than the costs to be dealt with if the decision is rather made to stay the course and keep on living with that obstacle still around. Just like when a “Should I stay or should I go” moment becomes an “I go” one. (Thanks to The Clash for the inspiration on this one.)

In a way, it’s only when the decision to “go”, to move forward is made and put in action, that someone’s courage to challenges the status quo becomes greater than his fear of losing BlogPost 002 - OnceOnesImaginationIsLitUpsome sense of security and the comfort that comes along. The same also applies to cities and even organizations. Because, as I like to put it, once one’s imagination is lit up, everything becomes possible. Something Human History likes to remind me through the stories I find, at Sparkshaüs, or the ones I get to live in my personal life.

So that’s why I chose “sparks” as the symbol of Sparkshaüs’ single purpose; to inspire people to think possible. So they can feel that impulse towards (what’s) possible hidden in anything considered impossible, and act on it. Just like Marie Curie, Muhammad Ali and many other people, cities and organizations did and keep on doing, ever since Mankind made its first steps on the African savannah.

Signature PF


To learn a little more :
– On Man’s instinct to go beyond : « Super Humanity » by Robert M. Sapolsky (Scientific American #307, September 2012), p 40-43
– On our first human ancestors: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-human-familys-earliest-ancestors-7372974/?page=1

The Footnotes :
(1) “Madame Curie”, by Eve Curie (William Heinemann Ltd, 1938), p 25-26, 45, 47
(2) Pietermaritzburg – in South Africa, on June 7th 1893
(3) http://www.pmbhistory.co.za/?showcontent&global[_id]=65
(4) “The Wright Brothers”, by Fred C Kelly (Dover Publications, 1989), p8
(5) http://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/wright-brothers/online/who/1859/wilburOrville.cfm
(6) “King of the World – Muhammad Ali And The Rise of An American Hero”, by David Remnick (Vintage Books, 1999), p99
(7) http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/02/the-definitive-story-of-steve-wozniak-steve-jobs-and-phone-phreaking/273331/
(8) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxCNvNwl60s
(9) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-human-familys-earliest-ancestors-7372974/?page=1


  1. Shawn says:

    Don’t forget the classic inspirational phrase : ‘A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark’ – “Paradiso” Dante Aleghieri

    1. Patrick Forget says:

      Thanks for your comment Shawn. I didn’t know that phrase from Dante, but I’ll sure remember it now.

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