Honeycomb

When I was in middle school, one day we were learning about bees and I expressed amazement at how bees could know how to make honeycomb in the shape of perfect little hexagons like that. A hexagon seemed like a pretty complex shape for a bug to know how to make, as far as I was concerned.

My teacher laughed and took out a stack of cardboard tubes (the kind from inside paper towel rolls) for just this demonstration. Bees don’t make hexagons, you see. They just make circles. But if you stack a bunch of circles on top of each other and apply pressure, they shape each other into hexagons.

It’s amazing how all of the things in a group can affect each other and change the shape of the pattern. You think you’re just making circles and then bam, you step back and you’ve got a bunch of hexagons. Or you think you’re learning a bunch of neat trivia about baseball and then bam, you’re a professional sportscaster. Or you think you’re just collecting a bunch of junk in the woods behind your house and then bam, you’ve got one of the best World War II museums in all of Italy.

(That’s a real one – I have a friend in Italy who grew up collecting odds and ends that he would find in the mountains near his home, until his mom made him rent a separate space to keep them in because, you know, she didn’t want un-detonated grenades in her house. So he put them in a warehouse and then people wanted to pay him to look at the stuff and now he has a museum.)

While you’re collecting your individual things, whether they be pieces of knowledge or people you know in an industry or tools or whatever, every once in a while step back and see how they might be changing the shape of one another into something even more interesting. You may be pleasantly surprised.

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