It’s all the same

“Design”: to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan.
(Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/design)

I believe that Life is a design problem, making us all designers, whether we know it or not. In fact, I believe that the principal factor of success for humankind is our ability to create according to a plan – the ability to take fiction and make it reality using limited means. In our cases, we take life goals and try to make them reality.

Well, that’s what I wanted to say, until I realized that I once thought that everything was Art, which I still think is true, and I also thought that everything was Dance, which I also still think is true. Life has also been tricking and programming to me, and no doubt it will continue to be other things.

They’re all the same, really.

But they’re so different, you say. Why yes, they are, but not in any way that matters. The fact is that no matter what the activity is, it’s still a human being doing it. (Don’t confuse the API with the object itself.) We learn fundamental lessonsĀ about ourselves from our life experiences.

While it is tempting to think that “Everything is X” or “Everything is Y,” the truth is that my understanding of the world is just that – my understanding. It doesn’t mean that “Life is a game.” Rather, it means that there are certain aspects of life that are game-like. The category isn’t important. The lessons we learn from the metaphor are the real takeaways.

One of my more renowned ancestors once said something about hearing one thing and learning nine. This is the benefit of metaphor. You learn hypotheses about varied parts of life by performing thought experiments, or better, actual experiments, within plausible frameworks.

But more than learning any particular thing, I value seeing the world from a new perspective. I am a tricker, a singer, a dancer, a designer, a programmer, an entrepreneur, and many others. Each one gives me a new way to relate to people, new lessons to learn, and a new way to appreciate the ineffable substance of Reality.

So instead of saying, “Everything is Design!” it might behoove me to think, rather, “What can I learn from seeing life through the eyes of a designer, or a dancer, or a web developer?”

The answer, I think, is, “rather a lot.”