Different ways of arriving at a goal Print
Youth Column
Written by Erick Rommel, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Mar. 12, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

Typically, the inspiration for what I write in this column is easily found. Something in the world sparks my interest and gets me thinking. Sometimes the words I want to type come to me in sentences that are almost completely formed. Sometimes I have different ideas floating in my mind, waiting to connect like puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together.

Unfortunately, at this moment I have no formed sentences and my puzzle pieces aren't connecting in a way that creates any sort of meaningful picture.

My first thought is to jump onto Google and search for news about teens. The first story is about a teen girl accused of encouraging her depressed boyfriend to kill himself. Story two is about a search for two teens; one is found, the other still missing. The third story gives details of a study reporting that one out of five teen girls is the victim of dating violence.

After that Google search, I was officially disheartened.

I then searched for inspirational stories about teens. The search turned up a story about a group of teens who created an app called Safe and Sound. It provides resources for teens struggling with anxiety and depression. Another story featured a teen who inspired others during a brief but deadly battle with cancer. The third story that popped up was about a New Zealand teen with cerebral palsy who is not only a Paralympian but is also one of the top table tennis players in the world. There is good in the world and teens are responsible for at least some of it.

It's important to note that I did not meet my goal of looking for inspiration during my first search or, if I'm honest, during the second search either. In the spirit of "if at first you don't succeed," I tried again and it worked. It got me thinking about people who make discoveries by accident.

Some say chocolate chip cookies were invented by accident. One version of the story is that a cook wanted to make chocolate cookies, but ran out of baker's chocolate. Instead, she added pieces of sweetened chocolate to the dough expecting it to melt, but it didn't.

There's a similar story for how potato chips were invented. Lore has it that a customer kept complaining to a chef that his fried potatoes weren't thin enough. Fed up, the chef cut the potatoes paper thin and fried them. The customer loved them and inspired a national addiction.

But snacks are not the only creations that may have been brought to us by accident. Penicillin, an antibiotic that has helped fight many serious diseases, also was discovered by accident.

Success, whether it comes in the form of writing, cooking or finding a cure, doesn't always come on the first try. And sometimes success is created by mistake; often it takes more than one try. This is how you get the puzzle pieces floating in your mind to get to your goal. Sometimes it's not enough to just look at different pieces. Sometimes you have to change the puzzle.

Erick Rommel is head staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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