I was driving somewhere the other day with an Australian friend.
We were going to some restaurant, she knew where it was, I didn’t, so she was giving me directions.
She said, “turn left up there after the zebra crossing.”
And I immediately thought, “What? I don’t see any zebras?”
See in the states, where I’m from, we call them “cross walks” or “pedestrian crossing.”
And if you’re driving in the mountains you might see a warning sign that says, “Deer crossing.”
So when she said “zebra crossing,” it sounded like a place where zebras cross the street.
Of course, a second later I realized that the “zebra” was a description of what it LOOKED LIKE, rather than a description of what it was USED FOR.
The old, “form” vs. “function” argument.
Some things are described by how they look, others are described by what they do.
In Japan, they say that “every meal is enjoyed twice.”
Once when you look at it, and once when you eat it. This means when they prepare meals, the PRESENTATION is just as important as the TASTE. Sometimes more so.
Now, personally, I’m the type of guy who’d rather pay ONLY for taste. I don’t really care what it looks like. But that’s just me.
I’m NOT the kind of guy who takes photos of his meal before he eats. In fact, I’m usually FINISHED before everyone else has started! (But I digress…)
The point is that if you spend TOO MUCH time worried about what you LOOK LIKE, you’ll impact what you are able to DO.
Form is fantastic, so long as it doesn’t impede function.
Now, what is the FUNCTION of your life, you may ask?
The truth is that YOU are the ONLY ONE who can answer that question.
Of course, since very few people take the time to determine the purpose of their own lives, it generally gets decided by others.
Bosses, spouses, kids, parents, TV commercials.
It seems that people are desperate to find meaning ANYWHERE but within themselves.
The problem is if you look OUTSIDE yourself for meaning, YOU, and YOUR LIFE will eventually be DEFINED by those outside sources.
And since this happens very slowly, you run a HUGE RISK.
And that is you’ll get to the end of your life and wonder what the heck just happened!
And guess what? Why do people look OUTSIDE themselves for answers?
They are AFRAID of choosing on their own. And making a mistake. And having to “do over.”
So instead of living through several “short term” and “low consequence” risks, they leave ALL THE RISK to the end of their lives.
Hoping it will end up OK!
Well, I don’t know about you, but screw that noise!
Of course, living ON PURPOSE requires courageous introspection. You MUST be willing to question things about yourself most are too scared to.
But if you do, you’ll get things MOST NEVER KNOW.