Lying on the bed, Buckminster Fuller looked at the ceiling. Roaches and filth surrounded him. His purpose for living was gone. His passion for discovery was also gone. Ending his life seemed the only answer.
The year was 1927. Alcohol was the easiest drug to abuse. And he did. At age 32 he should have had much going for him. He had attended Harvard University just a few years earlier. Twice. Most folks never go to Harvard once in their lives but he attended twice AND he got kicked out... twice.
He was a self-proclaimed non-conformist. The fraternity misfit. Harvard did not tolerate his actions even if he was brilliant. He lost his spot at Harvard the first time because of throwing a wild, inappropriate party. The 2nd time, he got kicked out for lack of interest. And now, here he was - bankrupt. Even though he was a machinist by trade and had served in the United States Navy, he had no money.
Despondent over those facts and over the recent death of his 4- year-old daughter, Fuller dropped out of life. Laying there deciding how to end his life, he stumbled upon a challenge. A challenge to himself that would ultimately lead him back to living and creating and designing and researching. The challenge was fairly simple but life changing. Suicide wasn't the answer to his depression. The solution was "to find what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity."
Having been a regular at a bistro in Greenwich Village New York, he bartered for his meals in exchange for redecorating the restaurant. By talking to people and risking trying again, he slowly began his journey back. Buckminster Fuller went from bankrupt and suicidal to author, designer, futurist, inventor and even served as the second president of Mensa (an exclusive society for certifiable geniuses). Before his life ended in 1983 at the ripe old age of 87, this "guru of design" would invent the geodesic dome, travel the world, write over 25 books, lecture in some of the most renowned halls around the world, and name a family of complex Carbon structures called "Buckminsterfullerene" or Bucky Balls.
All this, and more, happened because he chose to believe that life is worth living. Not because he had all the answers at once - he certainly didn't. Nor was putting his life back together an overnight process. Buckminster had a complex mind filled with questions that he chose to use to change his world.
He wrote in a journal about his life every 15 minutes from 1915 to 1983... possibly the most documented human life in history. Buckminster took seriously the challenge of life over death and went on to fulfill his life's interests.
I know I have felt overwhelmed in life and very sad. I have had to choose to get up and try again. I believe that to try and fail is no disgrace. I want to encourage you today if you are discouraged or depressed. There is hope. I know it is hard sometimes to choose. I want you to know you are not alone. Like Buckminster, you may have to reinvent your life. But it is worth it. The world needs what you have to offer.
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