I hope you are well!
This newsletter issue was not planned, but I hope you find it useful!
You may have noticed a lack of newsletters in your inbox for several months. I am alive and well for those curious.
Priorities, however, have shifted. I doubt a regular cadence of newsletters is on the horizon at this point. But who knows, things could change again.
Today, a portion of Nat Eliason’s “Infinite Play” newsletter sparked the motivation to write.
Michigan State’s campus was built without walking paths. Instead of trying to lay out the ideal network of sidewalks, the designers erected the main buildings, planted some grass, and let the students take it from there. As classes got underway, natural “desire paths” started to form. Students carved dirt lines across the green through repetition, wearing away at the grass where their habits determined the walkways should be. Once these natural paths became clear, the school reinforced them with concrete. And by not trying to enforce a layout before seeing what students needed, they avoided the ugly sight of beaten paths cutting between the lanes of a presumptuous grid. MSU understood, explicitly or not, that trying to force people into predetermined constraints on their movement wouldn’t work. No matter how lush and well-statued the paths were.
As I “mature,” it becomes increasingly obvious that I cannot explicitly tell someone how to do something and expect an optimal outcome.
What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Furthermore, what works for one person is guaranteed to play out differently when applied to alternate circumstances in practice.
Rules, procedures, social norms, etc.
Almost all of it is made up. Conceptualized and passed down.
Sure, these rules, procedures, social norms, etc. are rooted in thoughtful applications of reasoning for the sake of problem-solving.
But who is to say they are optimal?
A quote comes to mind - “change is the only constant.”
When I Googled who said that, numerous historical figures popped up. The wording is slightly altered, but the core thought is the same.
I’m not a philosopher, politician, entrepreneur, or world leader. But several individuals who hold these titles believe it to be true.
So, if change is the only constant, it would seem a worthwhile exercise to reflect on the predefined notions in life.
Are they optimal?
If you were a bright-eyed Freshman arriving at Michigan State’s pathless, grassy Campus back in the day, how would you choose to navigate forward?
If you could erase all the rules, procedures, and social norms in your life, how would you choose to navigate forward?
Does your answer look different compared to your current trajectory? If so, it’s probably worth more thought...
I hope you found some of my rambling useful.
Until next time, take care of yourself and be well!
Whit Rasmussen's Newsletter
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