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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Microstory 1027: Howard

Have you ever noticed that we write addresses backwards? If I want to send a letter to my friend at 123 Main Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, I make it harder for the mail service to deliver by writing it out like that. We should start with the general, and become more specific from there. The first person at the post office only cares about which country it’s going to. They see Spain, they throw it in the Spain bin. They see Canada, they throw it in the Canada bin. Once it gets to Canada, the next person only cares about which Province it goes to, so put that on the next line. Next person after that only cares about the city, and the next which post office, which means it’s only the last one who cares about which specific building, or unit, it’s meant for. I had this dream that we would completely revamp our delivery system, to make it make more sense. Now, I don’t really know how it works. Maybe I was always wrong, and no worker has any problem hunting for the line that matters most to them. Or maybe the entire address is relevant to everyone who sees it. I just thought there was a better way, but Viola helped me get over it. It’s an insane idea to change something that’s been so ingrained in our way of life for centuries, but she never treated me poorly for it. She gently explained to me that the problem with the way we write addresses has less to do with the order, and more to do with the spacing. The system would work just as well top to bottom, if only we separated the geographical regions more clearly. Anyway, this was really just one carefully explained example of these ideas I have in my head that normal people don’t think about. I obsess over small inconveniences and inefficiencies that most people gloss right over. There are better ways we could be doing things, but in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t matter much. Viola taught me that, but didn’t let on she was doing it. She taught me that life is not so much pointless as it is too complicated. A lot of good has come from humanity’s advances over the last few centuries, but some have made things worse. Why do we have health insurance? It’s an unnecessary step towards healthcare. We came up with these ways of treating maladies and other medical conditions, and then we muddied it up with a bunch of erroneous programs that do nothing but cause mess. I was getting so bogged down with trying to make this life more efficient, that my life itself was inefficient. Viola helped me shed what she called the extra from my life. Minimalism is key. That’s not to say I’m going to go live in a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere, and drink milk straight from the udder. But I’m also not going to play by all of society’s rules. My life is going to be simple, and fulfilling, and I owe that to Viola’s ageless wisdom.

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