The sun is up. I lie in bed watching it bleed through my bedroom window while the low roar of cars passing by serenades me.
I'm still sleepy, so I close my eyes and drift into a junkyard, where some great inventor has disassembled his prize-winning robot. I make my way through a sea of scrap metal and screws. Then it hits me - what if I could turn my wheelchair into a mini smart car with all these pieces?
It wouldn't need much, just a heavy-duty frame, sunroof, some headlights and a place to stash my snacks. I'd supply my own entertainment system - an 80-gig iPod and a pair of headphones. If anyone wanted to tag along for the ride, a passenger seat would pop out with the touch of a button - and at the rate technology is progressing, I don't think it'll be long until the world sees its first wheelchair-converted vehicle.
If I can think that, imagine what engineers and automakers can do with it. Imagine if Henry Ford drew up the blueprint back in the day. Better yet, imagine if someone out there is working on it right now.
You wouldn't need to fill up on gas again. You'd probably have to drive halfway to Florida to get considerable mileage on the thing, but a million miles doesn't seem so far when you've already driven a thousand.
The interesting thing about innovation is that it is designed to benefit everyone - not just those with physical challenges or farmers who tend to their fields. It's about being a student and a teacher at the same time - to be willing to show people what you've done while keeping yourself open to learn how to improve.
If that's not an innovator's sole purpose, the job isn't worth doing. There has to be something that makes him or her get up every morning and make the things we'll use tomorrow. That person not only gets to live a dream, but also help thousands - maybe even millions - of people with one product.
I think it helps when people are open-minded from the start. A true visionary has to believe in his own idea before he can convince anyone else to believe in it.
I don't see myself driving down any highways anytime soon, but I do believe I will live to see the day when wheelchairs join the elite on the open. If I'm too old and gray to experience it firsthand, I'll raise a glass of sparkling grape juice to innovation and kiss the feet of those who made it possible.
Until then, I'll keep on rolling!
Erin Kelly, 27, was born with cerebral palsy in Seoul, Korea and now lives in Altoona. She is a 2009 graduate of Penn State Altoona. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.