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About Staircases

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Check next time you’re traveling. You’ll notice every staircase, anywhere in the world, looks exactly the same.

Stand at the top. What do you see? Parts of the staircase are worn away, in two rows, going from the top to the bottom.

This is because every person coming in and out drags their feet in exactly the same manner. They walk up the side of the staircase and, after many years, you get grooves where thousands of pedestrians have walked.

Wanna know another word for the groove?

The Rut

Patterns are so easy to fall into that we don’t even notice we’re in them. Even if we do notice, we don’t really know what to change.

“Ok, everyone’s behaving this way. What do I do now?” It’s far from obvious.

There’s also all these reasons for not being different– social pressure being a huge one. “Omg, what will people think?”

Worse than that is that when someone steps out of a pattern, they usually step right into yet another pre-existing one. That’s why alternative kids all dress the same.

Or butt marks on staircases’ rails where everyone decides they’re going to slide down, instead of walk.

The World is Losing Its Wildness

There are no uncharted spaces anymore, no hinterlands, are there? 19th century explorers had the Arctic; in the 20th century they had the moon. What about us?

Psychologically it’s a bit the same. How does someone become different, become themselves? Or are we recognizing that there is no new way, only many different acceptable ways to be different? Is that a good thing?

Are you walking down a staircase? You should at least be conscious of the pattern you’re in. You may want to change it, just because. The ability to adapt is healthy. It’ll get you to think differently, even if only a bit.

Or hey, if you’re going to travel the same path as everyone else… you may as well do it without dragging your feet.

* Filed by Julien at 3:41 pm under random


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

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4 Responses to “About Staircases”

  1. Lauren Says:

    The next wilderness is ourselves.

    We have to learn to look beyond the exterior, disregard what other people tell us about ourselves, and what we can see with our own eyes, but don’t always believe.

    If you know yourself, talk to yourself (in your head, not on the subway. ok, on the subway if you want), stay in touch with yourself, do what you know is right despite anything, you will stay wild.

  2. Deborah Hinton Says:

    “Path of Least Resistance” by Robert Fritz talks about this phenomenon – how structures drive behaviours and how changing them isn’t as easy as willing it to be so [ask anyone who's tried to lose weight].

    Also, if you’re not you who are you?

  3. CT Moore Says:

    Children have plastic brains, which is a huge advantage for learning and recovering from injury. Adults have much less plastic brains, which is good for retain lots of knowledge, which is good if you want to eat the sabertooth tiger rather than it eating you.

    Routine can also be a good thing. When you accept that you can set it yourself, you can use it to accomplish all kinds of things.

    That’s what discipline is all about, I guess: a groove, a routine, a groovie routine…

    Gawd, I’m full of it… :P

    But like most things, “a rut” seems to have two sides to it. In fact, it has a lot: a groove, routine, habit, regimen, etc…

    So maybe it’s what you make it. Maybe as long as you don’t let it make you, everything’s irie….

  4. Joe Sorge Says:

    Totally in tune with this thinking, it’s along the same lines of how schools teach children to obey, to fit in, to be a cog.

    As I was reading your description of the path that most people take on the stairs, I envisioned the person daring enough to step out of the “rut” and proceed up or down the stairs in their own path. Ya know what’s going to happen to them immediately, or at least what I saw in my minds eye? They’re going to smack right in to someone who’s walking the other direction, possibly even someone walking in their own “path”. So breaking out of the rut also requires some hard work, or at least focus and determination? Who knew?

    Thanks Julien

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