Two weeks ago, I wrote about my obsession with this traffic video.
I'm still a little obsessed, and I know that seems weird. I thought it was weird, too, but then I put some thought into why I am so obsessed, and I think I found the reason:
I always think things can be improved. Be made more effective and more efficient. Not everything needs to be made more efficient and more effective, but I think a lot of things do. There is a lot of room for necessary improvement in this world.
Yet so often I see people take the first choice available to them. The most obvious route. The mindless decision. The path of least resistance.
When I'm working with storytellers, for example, I often see them choose the first anecdote that comes to mind when building their story. The first choice of words. The first means of description. The first pathway into the story.
I'm always trying to find the better way. In some ways, I know this makes me a little crazy.
For example, I'm engaged in lifelong experiment to determine the fastest way to empty a dishwasher. Dishes first, then glasses? Silverware first? Should I move certain items to the counter to make it faster to access the cabinets? I'm a person who uses a stopwatch when emptying the dishwasher.
That's a little crazy.
I do the same thing when taking a shower. Can I get in and out of the shower in under 100 seconds? Is there a faster, more efficient way of getting myself clean? If I start by soaping my chest, while gravity pull the soap down to my legs, making that process faster? Do I even need to wash my knees? Do knees ever get so dirty that they require a scrubbing?
Crazy. I know.
And when it comes to storytelling, I make lists. Lists of possible anecdotes. Lists of descriptors. I experiment with different places to begin a story. Different places to end a story. In a lot of ways, storytelling is about choice. The best storytellers make the best choices when constructing their stories.
But so many storytellers make no choices at all. They simply choose the first thing that comes to mind. They see their story as a predetermined construct rather than something that is flexible, malleable, and rife for improvement.
Just like emptying the dishwasher. And taking a shower. And a thousand other processes I dare not mention lest you think I'm losing my mind. Every day of my life, I am trying to find more efficient, more effective ways of doing things, to a degree that would probably surprise and perhaps alarm you.
But I believe that things can always be made better. Work can be accomplished faster. Time can always be saved.
Just like that traffic video, which acknowledges in a wonderfully visual way how simple changes in design can yield remarkable results.
That's why I'm obsessed. The people who design intersections are my people. That video is like looking into my head and seeing how my brain works, for better or worse.