I went on a hike with the ghost of the inventor of the cotton gin, Eli Whitney.

I said, “What made you invent something that helped separate cotton from its seeds?”

Eli Whitney said, “It was never of any interest to me. But the idea suddenly came to my mind. I shared these imaginings with Ben Franklin. Franklin helped me design, manufacture and sell the cotton gin.”

I said, “When I was a kid, I wanted to invent a bubble gum that wouldn’t stick to the hair. I was heavily invested in a solution because I was constantly bullied in grade school. Bullies stuck wads of gum stuck in my hair. I got serious and set up a testing lab in my basement. I tried mixing gum with cooking oil in an attempt to make the gum non-sticky, but it made the gum too soft and unchewable. I gave up in frustration.”

Eli Whitney said, “I think you were unsuccessful because of your great investment in the outcome. The greater the need, the more of a nemesis it becomes. I still to this day, don’t give a whit about processing cotton.”

We hiked for a while in silence. Eli Whitney noticed a wad of gum stuck to a rock.

Eli Whitney said, “I’m certain that rock feels your pain.”

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