Sunday, September 16, 2007

"I'm a blender" and other sayings of note

My friend, Trevin, has recently moved to New York City after many years of imaging this place as the Garden of Eden. I understand - I've felt that way for the six years I have been away and I love being back here. During a recent conversation I was explaining to him that I had plans for a time he suggested we meet up to hang out, and invited him to come along. I gave him fair warning about the crowd he'd be meeting to which he replied, "oh don't worry about me, Christa. I'm a blender." To which I just burst out laughing.

And it's true, Trevin, like me, is a blender. I know many of other people who are not - people I would never dream of introducing to friends from other chapters of my life. When someone asks "what kind of skills do you think I need to do X job", being a blender is never something I've heard someone say before.

For years I've been hearing lots of funny, odd, and all-too-true sayings like Trevin's and it's high time I wrote them down. The following is a list of those (in addition to "I'm a blender") that stopped me in my tracks, made me laugh, and also made me think.

"Bad design will haunt you forever." My boss loves this one, and it's so true. So many times we think up solutions and approaches to just get by. We're so interested in doing that we don't spend the time designing the best possible solution. We just want something in place so we feel like we're moving forward. For example, let's look at the state of New Jersey highways - could there be a worse design? Look at the bridge feed from NJ Route 4 onto the GW Bridge - hideous. Who imagines going from 6 lanes to two in a 100 foot stretch?

"Learn to talk to a wall." I used to think small talk was overrated - now I've learned that small talk creates big connections. I've been undervaluing it for far too long. Small talk builds the beginnings of life-long relationships and connected us others. Through small talk we find our place in the world.

"Prepare for peace in a time of war." I am so mad at Sun-Tzu for writing The Art of War. I'm even more mad at the people who revere it and take it out of context. So often I feel like preparing for war is the easy part. Preparing for and building a plan for maintaining peace is the hard stuff. Any schmo can demolish a bridge; it takes a real artist to build one that holds up over the years.

"Don't invest in things that rust." This another one of my boss's favorites that he lives by, truly. He had one car for 18 years. Unbelievable. And this saying extends far beyond cars. Think about all the energy that we pour into lost causes or places where we know we can't make an impact. Eventually it rusts out, and we move on. Imagine what we could do by redirecting that energy toward things like fine wine and a good quality leather coat that only get better with age.

"Be in it for the journey." There's something to be said for having a goal, and something to be said for taking interesting detours. And yes, you can do both.

"Live your life spherically, in many different directions." Ever meet someone with a one-track mind? I never understand that. I used to envy those people who could be so singularly focused, mostly because I am the anti-thesis of them. And I would get down on myself when I felt like I was flailing and all over the place. Was my exploring getting in the way of my living? And after a few years, I could look back on the journey and see how it all connected, see how having my hands in a lot of different pots gave me a richer, more interesting spirit than I would have had otherwise. And I learned that the only really direction in life is a circle.

"The hardest thing on Earth is choosing what matters." I used to frustrate myself with all of my competing interests. For a long time I have struggled with prioritizing different areas of my life. My romantic life, school, time for me, friends, family, career. And when I read this saying I felt a huge weight being lifted off of me. I thought everyone else instantly knew what was important and what wasn't, and then just went about their lives. It turns out that deciding between competing interests is everyone's struggle. We're in this together, and to help one another figure this out.

"I believe in the goodness of imagination." No explanation needed.

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