THE BLOG

American Voices on Reinvention

02/13/2014 11:44 am ET | Updated Apr 14, 2014

Humanity invented many forms of culture and technology over the centuries, pushing civilization ahead until we've arrived here and now. Inventions transformed human beings into new, more adaptive types of people. We created more time by creating time-saving tools, and have taken ourselves off our planet in metal projectiles.

Invention still pulls modern life forward into the fast-arriving future. But invention has existed long enough to be joined by reinvention.

National and planetary cultures are shifting. People are expecting the best from each other, and getting it in return. Communities and individuals want change to happen faster, and they wanted reinvented modes of behaviors from institutions stuck in the past. Powerful ideas travel quicker, and cities and regions communicate as a interconnected living beings.

Everywhere communities are reinventing themselves. What worked before isn't working now. Transformation has to occur. In business, customers can learn more and react quicker. The old messages are being clicked past. You've decided to walk a mile or two every day, or read a book or three every month. Reinvention is in your hands.

Personal and cultural reinvention is in the air, and people are daily transmitting the reinvention message. Here are some of their voices.

"As someone who is celebrating 25 years in recovery from alcohol and drugs (my clean and sober date is February 4, 1989), I know it's possible for a life to be completely reinvented. One of the things I learned to do in the 12-step program is to do the "footwork" in life, and let go of the outcomes. I used to want specific things in life and I worked hard for them, thinking they would make me happy. But they never did. Finally I learned to simply address the Universe with my wish to be happy. After all, who am I to teach the Universe what happy looks like? In my experience, this is the only way to reinvent yourself and your own experience in ways you could not possibly have imagined."
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Author of 24 published and forthcoming books

"Reinventing yourself is putting the idea of 'change is constant' into practical application. Changing WITH your natural growth and evolution is reinvention as a lifestyle. Failures, disintegrations, breakdowns, and mistakes of every kind are no longer black shameful marks on one's personal record. Instead, we are allowed to fold our full unhidden history into a genuine expression of who we are right now."
Sierra Kennedy, LMP
Massage Practitioner, LMP

"When my successful photography career began to implode (party due to the dot-com implosion, and partly due to new digital technology) an agent told me I needed to reinvent myself. I took that to mean I should devise a new me, but I'd never really devised my old self. So for a few years I drifted, and eventually I became a creative director, and a filmmaker. I went back to the idea of reinvention, and looked at one definition in particular. It was this: find, discover. For me, that changed everything. I think people are struggling with the notion of reinvention so much these days because the world is changing to quickly that we are all having a hard time cementing our place in it. If you look at reinvention as "finding" or "discovering" your place in this new, exciting, ever-changing world and accept the fact it won't be easy, or secure, or comfortable, you can begin to enjoy the good part, which is watching the future unfold in front of you."
David Gaz, Filmmaker & Creative Director

"My most important reinvention was in making the transition from being an itinerant book publisher to a grounded Seattle-ite. I used to define myself by my career, and I'd think nothing of moving across country for some silly job. I was preventing myself from having a more meaningful life by putting down roots. Then, one morning, April 6, 1997, to be precise, as I began another intellectually fascinating but socially desolate day of virtual Internet publishing work, I read my Rob Brezsny Horoscope for the week, which included this passage: "Make this a healing time, a time of reclaiming your personal power. It begins with a stable home base." I looked out my window at Mt. Tamalpais and thought, that's no mountain. I immediately phoned my boss and told him I was moving back to Seattle. Now I look out my window at Mt. Rainier (often saying to myself, now, that's a mountain) and I hang out with friends I've known for 25 years. I still take pride in my work, but now I identify myself much more with my character and spirit and, most of all, with my family, my friends, and the communities I've chosen to live in."
Larry Swanson, LMP

"Since all of the unsavory aspects of culture have been created or 'invented' by people, it's interesting to think about what 'reinventing' them would mean. It means letting go as much as building up again, and especially building a consensus to let a reinvented social order grow stronger. I'm holding in mind things like racism, homophobia, sexism, all the 'schism-isms' as I call them. These were invented to justify a ranked status system so that those considered to be at the top were entitled to receive more than those 'underneath' or what the media now calls 'marginalized.' America has always had scattered efforts of cultural reinvention, and social movements of good people doing great things. Habitat for Humanity comes to mind, plus, this is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation."
John Perkins
Solution-Focused Consultant

"The driving force for self-reinvention can evolve and change as the process takes place, so that one reinvention leads to another. Well into retirement, I recently discovered that my scientific publications from 35 years ago had been treated by corporate colleagues in ways that could be considered misrepresentation and plagiarism. Addressing those injustices after such a long time required a reinvention of myself by returning to the world of scientific journals and research after an absence of over 30 years. Thanks to the online availability of scientific journals, I brought myself up to date on the recent developments in the field, and integrated them with my early work. This resulted in a series of successes - several publications in peer-reviewed journals, a cover page article in The American Scientist in 2012, an invitation to be a keynote speaker at a major conference hosted by NASA in 2013, and a job offer. On further reflection, I wondered if there could have been a connection between the way I was treated and the corporate culture of those times. Being both a relatively openly gay man and an immigrant (from the UK) was a combination which made me a socially acceptable target for homophobic and other forms of abuse. Such thoughts propelled me into a second reinvention. I wrote a book entitled "Perspectives of a Gay Immigrant American Scientist," which explored and expanded upon these considerations, including a discussion of experiences and cultures at Oxford University, UC Berkeley, DuPont, and Xerox."
Meurig W. Williams, MA DPhil, Scientist and Author