No offense if you own one, but I’ve never liked maroon cars.
And it doesn’t matter what you call it—burgundy, carmine, rosewood, auburn—I just think that color goes better on farmhouses, fire stations and school buildings.
Don’t get me wrong, if someone gave me a maroon Maserati, I’d take it and say thank you.
I feel kind of silly admitting this now, but when I was younger, I thought that no one else really liked maroon cars either. I mean, surely everyone else felt the same way I did, right?
I thought that manufacturers produced maroon cars simply to provide variety in the same way that Crayola puts 64 crayons in its big box. A few of them don’t really get used. (I’m looking at you, white crayon.)
Then one day, in my teens, I realized that a friend’s dad had bought a maroon car because it was the same color as his favorite football team’s uniforms. Pwwwwwwhh! (That’s the sound of my head exploding.)
Someone had spent tens of thousands of dollars, on purpose, to buy an ugly-colored car because… they didn’t see it as ugly. They actually liked it!
This simple insight helped me get that of course other people have different desires and motives and beliefs from my own.
And even though I know that, I sometimes forget it. After all, as David Foster Wallace writes, each of us has “the freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation.”
We tend to give gifts that we’d like to receive. We often give love the way we want to be loved. We judge others by our standard of how we think people should behave.
Historians say that humans became significantly more empathetic after the novel gained widespread popularity in the 18th century because that art form made it possible for us to experience life through another’s perspective in a way we hadn’t before.
Air travel, movies, social media and the internet have made it easier than ever to both access the world and to understand it from others’ points of view.
And even though there are more choices, distractions and noise than ever before, we always have the choice to remember that people experience life in ways that are very different from our own.
Some people like maroon cars. And that’s more than okay.
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