Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celebrating Failure! Columbus Day!

This week we celebrate or don't celebrate Columbus Day! Over the years there has been a constant debate about whether or not it should be a national holiday.  Maybe we aren't looking at it from the right perspective.  I utilize this in my book "Life Pioneers:  The Edge of Possibility!"  here is a small part...

“Let’s take Christopher Columbus,” Grandpa began. “I’m guessing you know who that is, right?”

“Of course, Grandpa, everyone knows the story of Christopher Columbus. In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. But what does that have to do with what we’re talking about?”

“Patience, my son, everyone knows how the story ended, but do you know how it began?” questioned Grandpa.

“I think he was trying to find a different route to India or something,” answered the boy. “Exactly,” replied Grandpa. Now the boy was even more confused. “And?” interjected the boy.

“Well, did he find India?” Grandpa shot back.

“No, not even close. He found America. That’s why we still have Columbus Day, although he didn’t really find America on the first trip,” added the boy to impress Grandpa with his knowledge.

“Very true, he completely failed to find a new route. The question is, why was he the first one who attempted that route to India?”

“I don’t remember Grandpa. I guess they didn’t think they could make it that way,” answered the boy.

“It’s something like that. It was actually because, back then, it was a well-known fact that the world was flat and if you sailed …” started Grandpa.

“Too far,” interrupted the boy, smiling, “you’d fall off the edge!”

Grandpa smiled at his young student’s enthusiasm and continued, “Besides, some of the other top ‘thinkers’ of the time had a theory that there were monsters waiting for those who would dare to attempt navigating close to the edge of the known world. But why did they think this? Had anyone gone out and seen the end of the earth? Or had anyone actually seen these monsters?”

“There’s no way they could have,” replied the boy. “Neither of them existed.”

“True,” said Grandpa. “And yet artists created paintings and drawings of them. No one in Europe wanted to head out into the ocean the opposite way, until one person crazy enough to try it actually sailed out and came back alive to tell the story. And did he come back with tales of the edge of the earth and gigantic monsters?”

“No,” answered the boy. “He told them he had found a new land that they previously didn’t know about and that he had claimed it for the king.”
It is now widely know that Columbus never actually landed on the North American Continent and this small piece of information is used as the reason that it should not be a national holiday.  I would argue that now more than ever we need to celebrate Columbus Day, not because he 'discovered' America but because he had the spirit to try.  Did he fail in his initial goal?  Absolutely 100%, no question, it was a complete failure.  He never got close to India.  Did he actually step foot in 'America' it's pretty clear that he did not.  But, by going against conventional wisdom of his time and trusting his intellect and instinct he started a process that changed the world for ever.  Would someone else eventually find North America & South America?  Probably, eventually but that is hindsight.  So I suggest that every Columbus Day we celebrate all the pioneers who have changed our view of the world.  The brave few who are willing to go against conventional wisdom and risk everything to see if they can find a better way!  Make it a national Pioneer Day!  Celebrate the past, present and future Pioneers in all areas.  Maybe then we can show people that their world is not flat.  They are only limited by their fears and that anything is possible if you are willing to plan, set sail and persevere!!