Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Reinventing the wheel

The Student of the Year spoke at the college graduation I attended last Saturday. He told his peers that he had reinvented himself when he came to college. “I was unpopular and detached in High School,” he said. “I decided to change my attitude and broaden my horizons when I came to college.”

A few seconds of confusion filled the air. No one could imagine this Student of the Year as ever being anything but involved in a multitude of clubs, mentoring, working, and volunteering constantly.

Comparing the old with the new, he said, “Don’t be afraid of the unknown.”

Granted, the graduation ceremony was full of clichés. But it reminded me of the cliché, “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.” If a class curriculum works, leave it. If a book is good, leave it. If the diet works, don’t change it.


However, even the wheel has been reinvented.

Researchers agree that the wheel was invented about 3500 BC. But, the sophisticated mind can detect wheels back in the Paleolithic era (15,000 to 750,000 years ago), when humans used logs to move large loads around.

The Egyptians are credited with the first spoked wooden wheel on their chariots about 2000 BC. Iron rims were seen on Celtic chariots in 1000 BC.

wheeli, sit tankThen there was a lull. From 1000 BC until the 19th century, wheels stayed the same. This must be when the cliché “we don’t need to reinvent the wheel” got stuck in people’s heads.


But, for more than a century, the wheel cliché is not being feared or followed. The need for faster transportation and the idea of using less material contributed to wheel reinvention in the 19th century and throughout the 20th century.

The wire tension spoke became the pneumatic tire. Another reinvention was the addition of hard rubber. Later, carbon was added to the rubber and the wheel/tires lasted longer. Then carbonless rubber. In 1926 and 1927 the steel welded-spoke wheels were invented. Disc wheels were prompted by their lower costs.

For as often as the wheel has been reinvented, it’s safe to say the benefit of being unafraid to change our attitude and broaden our horizons is okay. Plus we get the potters wheel, the ferris wheel…

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