One of my favorite musicians, Delbert McClinton, has a song about his true love being the “same kind of crazy as me.” I have often thought of that in my travels through life because of the many different kinds of “crazy” encountered. I blogged recently about the race car builder who would rather have been working on his model train layout. He was far from the extreme in my experience.
The value of these enthusiasts to our society, aside from providing interesting blog material, is their ability to keep ideas alive for long periods of time waiting for the right technological breakthrough or market conditions to prosper. A good example is the wooden boat business. For many years after the emergence of fiberglass, no one built wooden boats commercially. There was money to be made fixing and restoring existing boats but the creation of new craft was left to dedicated amateurs. As glue and resin technology improved, wood came back into the new designs and branched (unconscious pun here) out into other fields. The first McLaren F1 race car had a chassis that used wood with resin to make a light, stiff structure. Fifty years later, that technology has developed into carbon fiber chassis for most road racing cars. Crazy amateur boat builders nurtured that advance.
Few of you readers will remember Heath Kits and other home electronic projects. Crazy kids used to buy a set of plans and parts, fire up the soldering gun, and build a radio or primitive computer. Apple wouldn’t have been started in a garage if the home electronics kit market had not put the parts, pieces, and infrastructure in place. Unfortunately, bored kids can no longer walk into a Radio Shack and walk out with a dream under their arm.
This is where that crazy father/uncle/co-worker becomes especially valuable. Ideas don’t need a lot of resources to stay alive for the right person — just enough “crazy” to keep them out of the landfill. If you are the custodian of a dream consider yourself thanked.