Why I Value Variety

If there is any one characteristic in me that just comes naturally, it would be a love of variety. When I go to a restaurant, I look for something that I have never eaten before. I love lots of different music that is full of surprises. I want to read different kinds of books because any one genre over time gets old to me. I want to see movies with good stories… to be pulled into the story and surprised. I do not like predictability. The same old thing bores me. Variety inspires me.

24.gifI do not want to “see the pattern”. A few years ago, a coworker told me about the TV show, 24. I got it on DVD and watched it with Jeanie. What a great show! I loved the way they put it together by doing it in “real time”. After the first season on DVD, we watched the 2nd season. By the end of the second season I was starting to “see the pattern”. I was seeing the formula. I started watching the clock and thinking to myself, “It is too early to solve this now. Something really off the wall is about to happen.” Sure enough, a new character would turn the whole thing upside down. By the end of season two, I didn’t care. In fact, I never saw the final episode. I didn’t skip it on purpose, but got too busy to watch it. I could have rented it again, but I just didn’t care any more.

flugelhorn.jpgWhen I am playing jazz on my trombone or flügelhorn, I may find myself running out of ideas. Sometimes I will just pick a note out of the blue (no pun intended)… one that will just stir things up for me. I won’t know what it will sound like and that’s the point. It may fit well with the tune or it may not. The challenge then (whether it fits or not) is to make it sound like I meant to do it. The mere change can inspire me to weave a different musical pattern completely because of where it took me.

When I am running, or riding my bicycle, or driving, I love to take different routes, just because I can. I sometimes shave my face backwards because I can.
A long time ago when I was in the musical instrument repair business, I toured a musical instrument factory. A group of my colleagues wandered away from the “official” tour when they saw a man engraving a saxophone by hand. As they watched him in awe, one of them asked him if he ever made a mistake. He said, “you mean like this?” and he purposefully scratched the instrument with his engraving tool. He paused a moment to let us take in the gravity of what he had just done, “I just make it look like I meant it,” and he began to add leaves to the scratch to make it look like a vine or a branch. That inspires me. Turning a mistake into a work of art. Creating variety. Using variety to be creative.

After all, a rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out.

value-variety.gif

Values

Values
I am learning a lot about who I am (because that’s what 49 year olds do). Recently my friends and I began a discussion of values asking questions like, “What do you value?” “What do I value?” and “What do we value?” Exploring these questions is helping me define what I like, what I dislike and, most importantly, why.

Values are the fundamentals. Just the process of asking what a value is opens up a whole new set of questions. In general, I guess I always thought of values as being virtues. We are supposed to “value” them all. But if I say I value everything equally, I am really saying that I value nothing at all.

Although on some level, I value hundreds of things, it is only helpful if I narrow the list down to a few manageable items. If I could list the hundreds of things I could value, but only focus on the top few things, it would be helpful. In fact that’s what I did. Thanks to John for providing this list of values to start with.

Car Values
I just bought a Nissan pickup truck from Carmax. As I was shopping for it, I instinctively thought about the qualities I valued in a vehicle and chose this truck. Because it was:

  • A pickup truck
  • A brand known for reliability
  • Used
  • Good price
  • Relatively low mileage
  • I could buy it for the sticker price without having to haggle.

Change any of those top values and I probably would have bought something completely different.

Life Values
So the similar, but more important question is, “What am I looking for in life?” Here’s where I found some of the answers to that question:

  • What do I just naturally do over and over? Patterns of thoughts, feelings and behavior.
  • What resonates with me? What makes my heart do a flip?
  • What do I desire to be more intentional about valuing?
  • What do I admire in others?

At the risk of being known as Master of the Obvious, I don’t know what I don’t know. So many things that are important to me now, were not even on my radar just a few years ago. That tells me that values are not carved in stone. There will be things that I learn and am drawn to that will change my values in the future. But it is a starting place. My hope is that it inspires you to think about what you value.

These are the values I identified. If you know me, I hope you will see a picture of me in this graphic:

jimazing-values.gif