We avoid the word “solve.” Having reached the dead-end of a subterranean maze of creative, innovation-seeking inquiry, sometimes you just sit and stare. What do we do now? Root causes can’t always be addressed, as much as I know every other “solution” is woefully inadequate. I didn’t pursue this type of innovation work to add more incomplete conceits to what is often already a long list. The Mammoth Cave National Park visitor center features a video detailing the 1972 discovery of a passage connecting two systems previously thought to be separate. Overnight, this extensive geological maze became the largest such subterranean complex in the world. What isn’t mentioned in the video is the years of what I’m sure must have been many dead-ends. Minutes before their discovery, they had no idea how close they were. During my trip to Mammoth Cave last weekend, I was struck by the variety of narrow, seemingly hidden fissures that branched off larger rooms. The guide leads you through a passage concealed behind some fallen rock. You sometimes need to squeeze or bend through tight spaces before before entering a different world with its own features, dimensions and paths. My brain struggles to fathom the connection, how one has led to another. Progress is in the doing, or so I keep telling myself, emerging from the cool depths into the humid light, contemplating a new approach to the seemingly intractable.
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