Yikes, I’m it.

Earlier this week a co-worker jokingly poked me in the shoulder as she walked by and said “tag, you’re it”. My response was “fantastic, I’ve always wanted to be it.” Immediately afterwards a wave of enlightenment came over me. Although the verbal jousting was intended as a purely light hearted camaraderie, the substance of the exchange has a much more insightful truth.

It somewhat caught me off guard. I wouldn’t begin to simulate a therapist here, but it dawned me how much of our life’s time is spent doing just that… trying to be “it”. Starting almost at birth we have a need to be recognized and understood. We want to have a voice and create a place in the world for ourselves and the ones we care about. Remember the song by Cat Stevens called “Father and Son?”

As we progress through life’s stages, some keep this drive in check, some let it rule their life and some don’t acknowledge it at all. I propose this is one of the facets of the little gem called “us”, that simply needs balance. It’s apparent how well we do with this in a variety of ways. For Example, in the homes we build, the jewelry we wear, the cars we drive, and our clothing just to name a few. Is there a difference between saying “I’m it” and “hey, this is what I am about?”

Obviously there are a lot of reasons for the purchase decisions we make, but I a have friend that is a millionaire that drives an old (but clean) Chevy pickup. I also have a friend that is financially leveraged to the max, and drives a BMW. I have an acquaintance who is a very successful surgeon and wants a Mercedes, but is afraid to buy one because he doesn’t want people labeling him as status hungry. I told him that everything I know about him emulates quality and a quest for substance, and since that is the case, I would expect that he drives a car like that.

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(Mayflower Church as seen over “Remington Field” East Grand Rapids, Michigan) 

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(Grand Valley State clock tower @ DeVos Campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan) 

Historically, early villages were designed with elements that represented their core values predominately displayed. You would see church steeples in the middle of town, or seaports and rivers at the city core, as if to say “this is what we are about, this is it.”

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(Downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan)

When in people’s homes, I find it interesting to determine what is “it” for the family. In terms of proposing design solutions, this is crucial information. It is key on a family level, as well as an individual level. Think about some of the master closets you have seen. As parents, siblings, children, husbands and wives, any given life-stage can influence this as well. However, “it” is there and it’s a fun journey to find it.

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3 thoughts on “Yikes, I’m it.

  1. This reminds me: After I purchased some old science fiction movies on VHS, Amazon apparently decided I was a male, aged twenty or so. Thereafter the picks and suggestions they provided me gave me a great deal of amusement.

    Taking the time to ask questions and to observe on a broad range gets more important than ever with large purchases people will have to live with for a few years.

  2. Irene,

    On sites like Amazon I always have to go in a tune the preferences so the systems do not remember any history and don’t send me e-mail specials. My kids often look for hard to find toys and things that used to show up as “you might like this too” prompts. The internet is truly a “take the good with the bad” tool.

    As far as bigger purchases goes, I look optimistically towards the future. All the research is indicating the the aging demographics are gravitating towards quality over quantity. Which I hope means we (in very general terms) are thinking through our purchase decisions my more thoroughly then in pervious post war periods of time.

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