Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Three Types of People in the World

Stairs or Escalator?

The other day I went for a walk and I had some time to think about life. I came to the realization that our lives are nothing more than a series of seemingly complex layers of decisions. Yet as I continued to think, I began to realize that all of these choices that seem so complex on the surface are actually much more simple. I came to the conclusion that nearly all of our choices can be reduced to simple questions of act or do not act; active or passive; yes or no. And from this I realized that I could gather people into one of three groups based on their decision making. The first group are the people who ride escalators, the second take the stairs and the third walk up escalators. 

Escalator Riders: The Art of Passive Performance

Take a moment and think about an escalator. Imagine yourself approaching it as you see it shuttling people slowly upwards or downwards from one landing to another. They come in all different shapes and sizes, but their defining characteristic is that they assist in the transportation of people from one place to another. 

The first group of people approach the escalators step on and then stop, happily transported to their destination by their slow rising mechanical lift. These people progress through life willing to let things happen. They are content to accept their place in the world and drift with the masses from place to place. To ride an escalator is to detach oneself from free will and to become a passive observer of life. It's even rumored that the inventor of the escalator committed suicide in old age when he realized that he had simply given the world an excuse to become passive and lazy. 

Stair Climbers: Do it Yourself

If you're anything like me and you happen to interact with people and escalators on a regular basis, you may observe the ever bothersome person who simply states "I don't ride escalators, I'll take the stairs." Now after my rant about passive escalator riders, you may find it odd that I am complaining about stair climbers, the second type of person, as well. You may think, well there are many benefits of taking the stairs: resumption of free will, good exercise, muscle building, etc. These are all true statements, but they all miss an essential fact. Escalators help us get somewhere. 

Regardless of whether you choose to take the stairs or the escalator, you still exist and you are still always traveling from one place to another. The problem with taking the stairs is that by avoiding the escalators, you avoid the nagging urge to rest your legs, but you also miss the wonderful assistance of a machine that is designed to help you move. Escalators move at about the average speed of stair climbers, so whether you are a passive rider or a stair climber, you will both arrive at your destination at the same time.

Please Climb the Escalator

Personality type number three, my personal favorite, is the escalator walker. These are the people that truly have things figured out. They recognize the virtue of self-propulsion, exercise and personal choice, but they also recognize the fact that escalators were built to assist. By exerting the same amount of relative effort as a stair climber and also getting the assistance of the riders, the escalator walkers get where they are going twice as fast. 

I realize that this analogy is not perfect, but I would venture to say that it's pretty good. At any given moment, we are all likely to be making a decision about something. We can choose to do nothing or we can choose to do everything ourselves. Or better still, we can learn to ask for help and accept the benefits of the world that we live in without relinquishing our ability to effect positive change in our own lives. So at any given time, you can decide who you want to be and what path to take. So please help join me in encouraging everyone to just start walking up the escalators!

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