Are ideas “out there” waiting for us?

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo

Do you believe that ideas are out there simply looking for one of us to bring them into reality? The truth is, we don’t know where ideas come from at all, do we? After all, who is controlling the thoughts that enter and leave your mind? The conductor inside the machine…


Maybe this has happened to you. You have an idea for a product, a novel, a restaurant. It pops into your brain and, just as quickly, you dismiss it. Then, weeks or months later, you see your idea on the shelves or at the corner. We have all had these moments.

Science has a name for this phenomenon:

 Multiple Discovery.

This is more common than you may realize. From the invention of calculus by Newton and the 18th century discovery of oxygen to the theory of evolution – all were “discovered” at more or less the same time, by people across the globe that had no idea of the others work.

Is that not fascinating?

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love shares having had hundreds of people accuse her of taking “their book”, often confronting her at signings across the globe. It’s not possible she could have known the details of some strangers life, but that doesn’t mean the phenomenon isn’t real.


Mozart was recalled as saying that all of his symphonies came to him in “lively dreams”, complete, intact, ready for the recording.

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Gilbert, speaking on the phenomena, recalled an encounter with famed poet Ruth Stone, where she described her poems as “barreling down at her over the landscape”. You can watch it here.

As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming…cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, “run like hell” to the house as she would be chased by this poem.  The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would “continue on across the landscape looking for another poet.”


Stone is also recalled as saying that, if her timing was just right, she could “catch the tail of the tiger” and, as if holding it in mid air with her left hand, she would begin to write the words that came to her. They would fill the page, backwards, from the last word to the first, and she would have a complete work in front of her before “letting go”. 

Think about that for a second. The poems came to her, and she wrote them down… backwards.

The ancient greeks, rather than believing these ideas and inspiration were simply “out there” believed you had a spiritual guide that provided these bursts of insights. They even had a word for it. The word, eudaimonia, is translated to mean good guardian spirit. You can read more about it here

They believed that it was your connection to that guardian spirit provided the groundwork for genius, not that people were ever geniuses themselves.


Do you believe ideas are out there in the ether, waiting to be realized? Have you had the experience of failing to act on an idea, only to see it materialize through someone else?

Could this be why meditation and quieting the mind is such a powerful practice? A practice used by some of the greatest “geniuses” of history? Does this tool clean the connection between us and “out there”?

What say you? Comment below.

See you on the journey.

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