Thanks to the COVID-19 virus, most of us who do not work essential jobs have had a lot of free time thrust upon us. Such was the case last week when Paula and I were sitting out on our patio passing some of that free time. We had admired the blooming plants Paula had strategically placed around the area. Then we commented on the clouds that were easing along so silently.

With even a slight bit of encouragement, one — or both of us — could have easily dozed off for a bit of outdoor snooze time. Then suddenly we were the target of a large bumblebee that appeared out of nowhere in search of whatever bees are in search of this time of year.

Seeing that chubby aviator zipping back and forth near our sitting area made me think of the factoid I had stashed away many, many years ago. I had been told that aerodynamically speaking, the bumblebee should not be able to fly. In fact, the word "impossible" was thrown into the flight-defying equation.  

But somewhere along the way, no one bothered to tell the bee that what he was doing — flitting back and forth in our backyard — was not possible. Supposedly, his small wings could not generate enough force to keep his tubby physique airborne. Apparently, ignorance of the laws of aerodynamics resulted in blissful ignorance and flight. 

Perhaps this well known tale of the bee overcoming the odds was more fiction than fact, but on a couple of occasions I used it to motivate our sons to believe in themselves like the bumblebee. 

Who do you know that has overcome seemingly impossible obstacles and gone on to have remarkable lives?

Think about the political life of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. Before being elected president, Lincoln lost eight races for public office. His tenacity and strong drive made him one of the most influential and powerful presidents in U.S. history.

Do you know the name of the world's first black female billionaire? You get a gold star if you came up with Oprah Winfrey. But did you know she was fired — publicly — from her first job as a TV news anchor in Baltimore? The impact she has made in TV is nothing short of phenomenal. In her commencement address to Harvard graduates in 2013, she talked about what her long and incredibly successful career had taught her. She said, "There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction."

Henry Ford is known as the father of modern transportation. However, he watched helplessly as his first automobile business went bankrupt in less than a year. He succeeded several years later when he successfully manufactured the Ford Model A and later the world renowned Ford Model T. This man, who could have given up when he did not succeed, once said "Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently."

Who hasn't heard of the mega-successful author J.K. Rowling? But did you know that the creator of the wildly popular "Harry Potter" series of books was rejected 12 times before the a publishing company agreed to give her a chance. And the rest is history. I wonder how it feels to have been one of the 12 publishers who turned up their noses at J.K. Rowling?

Do you know the connection with Orville and Wilbur Wright and the city of Montgomery? The brothers, having failed twice to get their first aircraft to fly, succeeded on their third try at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Sometime later in their careers, the brothers opened a flying school at a small airstrip in Montgomery. According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, they didn't stay long in Montgomery after "mechanical and weather-related problems forced them to close earlier than planned." The site of their flying school is now known as Maxwell Air Force Base.

And finally there was the man who said "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." That quote is from Walt Disney, who was fired from his job with the Kansas City Star newspaper while he was in his early 20s. Disney's editor said he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas." Not to be deterred, Disney founded Laugh-o-gram Studios ... which promptly went bankrupt. The cards were stacked against Disney, who tried a third time and hit the jackpot with his character Mickey Mouse.

So, if you find yourself a little stir crazy and wondering when we'll make it through this coronavirus pandemic ... just remember this group of successful folks who — just like the bumblebee — didn't know they weren't supposed to fly.

Hang in there — we'll get through this — together. 

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