So the guys at 37signals pointed this out a while ago, and I've been pondering it for months.
A stool at O'Hare Airport in Chicago:
A similar stool at an Atlanta airport:
The stool on top is made from a cheap iron that was covered with a generous coat of good-looking paint. Looks great when it goes in, but as time goes on it really doesn't wear well. See the edges fraying? See all of the lumps getting exposed?
The stool on the bottom uses a slightly more expensive metal, but with no paint. Scuff the brass base of the stool and you'll just see more brass. Take a rasp to the corner, bang into it with your suitcase, let your dog chew on it. There's nothing there except more of the same.
Why do I spend so much time trying to put a good face on things, when I should be concentrating more on what's underneath the paint? A good friend recently asked me after a hard day's work how I was doing. I said I was doing pretty well.
"Ok, thank you, I get it," he said. "But outside of Micah Odor Positivity, how are you doing really?"
Really? That was a pretty hard day. But over the past two or three years, this has been the focus of my gazelle-like intensity: actually being the guy who can honestly say that life is good, no matter what. I still spend more time than I'd like wondering about the paint, but if you keep picking at it and scuffing it enough, you can get most of that off.
The unpainted stool looks better than the partially painted one, even if the metal underneath isn't fancy.
We become what we do.