Recently, a student asked me, concerning a classroom activity I had planned, if it was my “own” idea, or had I “found” it somewhere else, and, after thinking about her question, my conclusion is that no, I did not own that idea, and that in fact I don’t own any ideas. I find them all. I don’t personally assemble any of the ideas that lead my life from moment to moment. I simply make use of them. It’s as if ideas are floating freely in the universe, and some of them effortlessly land in my life as they are passing by. Indeed, thoughts are drifting everywhere, ready for me to make use of. I often find them in written words, but they also come to me in movies, television shows, music, signs along the road, easygoing spoken words. The universe is overflowing with ideas; all I do is avail myself of them. It’s delightful to contemplate a world like this, where no one owns ideas because everyone generously shares them. Today in class, I will send out countless ideas to my students, and they will do the same for me. We will spend 45 minutes in each class swapping ideas. At the end of class, we will have been slightly reshaped because we will be briefly making use of fresh thoughts. Even more wonderful is the fact that we can distribute these new thoughts to others, and still make use of them ourselves. It’s as if the world is filled with trillions of dollars and everyone freely shares all of it.
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