Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Reflections on the "The Show Me State" by Seth Godin

   As always, an interesting post from Seth. Thanks!

   Thinking about the post, and relating it to my own experience I came away with an example which reinforces his message, and to some degree expands on part of it.

   The major point or critique is a reflection about people's desire to sample rather than savor things, so they can race off to the next thing. Or conversely, having gathered some information about it, flutter away without really trying it at all. There is a lot of misplaced risk aversion encased in this phenomena.

   With deference to people's need to maximize their "time", I think it is pretty good to have some experiences that suck. If you are really out there living every now and then you're going to have a bad experience. Awesome!

   What? Crap experiences. Delete, Esc, Ctrl-Alt-Del. Help!

   Yep, you need to have some sub par experiences, or if you are massively anal about your time, settle for something distinctly average. These are the palate cleansers that allow you to discern the flavor of your next course, of that next grand experience. And usually, bad experiences end up being great memories. 

   My wife and I were traveling with my three kids (11 year old triplets at the time) through Jordan. We flew into Amman, and then headed south through the desert toward the Dead Sea and a small city called Kerak. Being guilty myself of trying to endlessly hedge my bets with research, I had found recommended accommodation in the Lonely Planet Guide at the Cairwan Hotel. When we arrived, it didn't look too promising, but I thought, let's do it! My enthusiasm was short-lived.

   Wow! There was an apparent rat infestation, as evidenced by some amatuer scatology. The beds were probably comfortable when the three wise men stopped by a few years back. The decor was other worldly. In an effort to ensure we would get the full effect, there was a wedding going on in the hotel bar during the night of our stay. Mayhem ensued. In short, it was really really BAD. 

   My kids were nearly as aghast as I, having stayed in their share of comfortable surroundings. But this place ended up being the ice water to before our return to the sauna. Our next stop was a two-story, three bedroom suite at the Movenpick Hotel in Aqaba on the Red Sea. 

  The contrast was to be savored. Every detail was richly magnified. I'm sure I would have enjoyed it without the "bad experience", but the bad hotel served as a framing experience for the good one. 

  We have repeated this experience somewhat by having deliberately reduced our travels to allow for some breathing, for some normal life. Without that, the experiences fold together like food in a blender. I might know it's there, and I can taste it, but the flavors overwhelm each other. Thus, the experiences are diminished.

   There is no short cut to enhancing experience. When you have a bad experience, or a bland one to give it context, you come away with much more. Whether it is a lesson, a book, a course, a hotel stay or a meal.  

   So, don't try to live life as a series of straight lines always seeking the shortest route. Meander, let some things go wrong. Give yourself the benefit of context. It will sharpen your mind, and separate events into discrete, more pleasing occurrences. 

   In short, context gives you the ability to see just how incredible life is. Enjoy it.


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