Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Lesson of the New Chair

A little over a year ago the corporation came through and gave us all new chairs. Mine is right over there, sitting in the corner, holding my briefcase up. I never adapted to the new chair. I tried, once or twice, rolling it into place and sitting on it and fidgeting with the adjustments trying to get to fit as well as the old chair, but it just wasn’t happening.

Now, there may be something objective to that – it may be that the old chair is simply better than the new chair, but I doubt it. I suspect it is entirely subjective. The old chair fits because I decided it fits. I became used to it. I adapted to it, just as the little adjustment levers allow it to be adapted to me.

So, this year, I am going to try and switch over to the new chair. The old chair is nearing the end of its life cycle. It is a typical center post office chair and the seals on the center post are starting to wear out. There is a bit of a wobble in the chair. Not a lot, but enough that it’s noticeable.

So, today, as soon as I finish this I am going to move into the new chair. I am going to take the time and figure out how the little controls work. They are essentially the same controls as the old chair, they are just in different places and have different sensitivities. I am sure it will take me a while to adjust the new chair and to adjust to the new chair. Then, after a few days or weeks or months, I am going to slip into the new chair and wonder why the heck I didn’t do this sooner. I hope.

Because though subjectivity plays a large part in our lives, we should not forget that objectivity plays a significant role as well. Sometimes, one chair is simply better than the other chair, the form, the design, the fit, the function – all of these things have a strong objective component as well.

Years ago I had a very good office chair. It was an extremely high quality ergonomic chair that originally was issued to one of my co-workers by the health department here, given that my co-worker had chronic ergonomic issues. That chair was a throne. When my co-worker left the company the chair was still warm when I swooped it and grabbed it, wheeling it into my office and then proceeding to hold onto it for as long as I could. Simply put, that chair was objectively an excellent chair.

So, as I prepare to move into the new chair I want to conclude this little essay with an observation. It isn’t the observation that I thought I was going to make when I started writing. When I started writing I thought I was going to write a small essay on the power of perception and the influence of subjectivity on simple things, but I realized that wasn’t what I had to say this morning.

What I have to say is this – sometimes things are subjective and we can, by changing our minds about them, change the experience of them. But, sometimes things are objective and all of our mental games do not change them and do not change the experience of them. They simply are what they are.

So, when you are confronted with something that requires or desires change, remember to carefully contemplate it and decide is it an objective thing or a subjective thing? If it is an objective thing you would be far better off to simply change the thing. If it is a design and form issue, rather than try to convince yourself you are comfortable when you or not, or try and convince yourself you don’t care when you, why, in that case, just change the thing.

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