Last night, as the sun was transitioning into it’s nightly dormant state, I was standing by our Weber working on the perfect burger. This is a task that is almost schizophrenic. One moment you’re idle, casually staged with spatula in one hand, and perhaps a beverage in the other… then the next minute you’re engulfed in tear jerking smoke, reaching into the mouth of the dragon to flip and place the main course with almost surgical precision. There you are, arched back to avoid the heat while applying seasoning and trying not to spill your drink. Then… it’s back to standing there, looking at your work and contemplating your next move. It’s almost like a lawnmower, sitting idle in the garage for 98% of the week, then the other 2% screaming full blast, hard at work traversing back and forth across the yard taking all the bumps in stride. Then back to storage.
During one of the down times, I took a stroll around the property. Some of the things growing on our little chunk of the world reminded me of a picture I took in the spring. There are some wonderful colors in the image, but more importantly was the message I translated from the act that was captured.
At first glance, it’s just a flower… a pansy, I believe. Not a flower (or title) that is associated with great strength. Some might even refer to this particular plant as a weed. But if you stop for a minute, and think about what this plant has accomplished you can begin to adopt it as an admirable model for living a full life.
First, as a seed it somehow got misplaced. There isn’t another pansy in our yard. It had to develop in complete isolation. Second, as a budding plant, it had to push through several inches of concrete and packed gravel to blossom. In doing so, it’s solitary goal was to seek pure, clean light. As a result, it has managed to prosper against what appears to be insurmountable odds and has succeeded at sharing it’s beauty with the rest of the world (those of us that are looking). As the summer went by, my family and I made a point of letting the flower remain where it was… right smack-dab in the middle of our front porch steps. It’s the least we could do.
There is something in this analogy we can all learn from. That is, if we don’t allow the weight or speed of the world to crush us. If we seek the truth, are open to sharing with others and do things in the light of day, we too can prosper.
There is a lot written about design as an approach that does just that. But design is only one of many maps we can use to study life. Design applied appropriately can bring clarity to our world. It can improve things through understanding of use, and proposing improvements. The same could be said about song, literature, painting, etc. Even if you’re not a “designer” you can benefit from design thinking. Even if you’re not a painter, you can benefit from having a Russell Chatham print in your living room. Even if you’re not a marketing executive, you can benefit from an effective marketing campaign.
One day this summer, I was walking from my car to the office with another individual and I pointed out a bright green weed that had pushed through the asphalt and was standing there so proud, dancing in the breeze. I tried to explain how I found this micro drama inspirational. He laughed, shook his head and said “say what you want, but that weed represents the downfall of man to me”. Go figure… there are many ways to interpret just about anything, but I propose there is a benefit to being wacky over weeds.