It was a cold December night in West Orange, New Jersey. Thomas Edison’s factory was humming with activity. Work was proceeding on a variety of fronts as the great inventor was trying to turn more of his dreams into practical realities.
Edison’s plant, made of concrete and steel, was deemed “fireproof”. As you may have already guessed, it wasn’t! On that frigid night in 1914, the sky was lit up by a sensational blaze that had burst through the plant roof.
Edison’s 24-year-old son, Charles, made a frenzied search for his famous inventor-father. When he finally found him, he was watching the fire. His white hair was blowing in the wind. His face was illuminated by the leaping flames.
“My heart ached for him,” said Charles. “Here he was, 67 years old, and everything he had worked for was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, ‘Charles! Where’s your mother?’ When I told him I didn’t know, he said, ‘Find her! Bring her here! She’ll never see anything like this as long as she lives.'”
Next morning, Mr. Edison looked at the ruins of his factory and said this of his loss: “There’s value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God, we can start anew.”
What a wonderful perspective on things that seem at first to be so disastrous. A business failure, divorce, personal dream gone sour … whether these things destroy an individual depends largely on the attitude he or she takes toward them. Sort out why it happened, and learn something from the blunders. Think of different approaches that can be taken. Start over.
Rubel Shelly The FAX of Life