Finding not *the* answer but *an* answer (Brianna at OASIS, Day 18)

fish being piped_670An answer: fish in the tube that are being piped to the water

A lot of my time in Seoni had been spent writing. As soon as I lost the thread of the conversation in Hindi, I started writing. “What are you always noting down?”, they asked me. I was trying to rewrite and write the guide to thinking differently. I am starting to think that it will be the anchor of whatever else I produce in India. I want it to be the heart of my internship at OASiS.

But I was having a hard time actually getting it out. I know that I want it to be about becoming more alive and pushing against expectations. I know that I want it to push people to see the limitless potential in themselves and in the world. But I had issues with the structure. I couldn’t see how to fit it all together. I’ve written several versions of it. And each time I learn more but I know that it’s not quite right.

Pradeep and I spent the whole afternoon talking about the guide and how to format it. We came at it from many different angles and now I feel ready to let it pour out. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you, because I am hoping some of you will want to read it, so I’ll stop there.

I do want to leave you with something that is still puzzling me. Pradeep told me about something he designed when he was my age – “a swing that swings you back!” He had developed a swing that doesn’t dissipate the energy you give it by sending it into the ground. Once he had a paying job, he used some of his money to get a prototype made at a blacksmith (“Of course he did,” you say, shaking your head and chuckling. “That guy!”). No one thought it would work, but it did. He had to try it himself since no one was willing to take the risk. He gave me some time to think about how he did it (or how anyone could do it). “There are always many ways to do anything,” he told me. “Stop focusing on getting my answer and try to find an answer. It might be better than mine!”

“Stop focusing on getting my answer and try to find an answer.”

My real answers showed that he was giving me too much credit. I was obsessed with there being springs involved. Then I thought it could just be a tree swing. I still haven’t quite grasped it. But I loved the process of grinding against this problem, even though I couldn’t make that much headway. I wanted to experiment with some strings. I realized how much I had been missing a chance to just test things out for myself. I spend a lot of time in my head. Maybe too much.

My challenge to you is to think about how a swing like this could work. I have until tomorrow to figure it out. Wish me luck!

Brianna Smrke, who has been working with the SiG@Waterloo simulation team, is visiting the OaSiS Social Innovations Laboratory in Bhopal, India. She is blogging about her experiences at downwithvowelswhich you can also follow here at


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