Chopsticks. Right now, millions of people are digging into their food with two sticks that have stood the test of time as a utensil for humans, even when countless thousands of other tools, gadgets and products haven’t. But what’s so special about them?
What can we learn from mere chopsticks?
Personally, I have used them all my life, but it was only recently I realised the depth of influence they had in many people’s way of life. They teach us the importance of:
1. Simplicity. They can come in all kinds of colours and sizes but essentially they are just two long sticks. There’s hardly anything more simple than two bits of wood being pushed together. With new technology being released everyday and adverts bombarding us with the need to be able to do more with less, multi-tasking and multiple-use devices, it is sort of refreshing to still have something which has just one use – simply to eat. Chopsticks are a living example that simplicity simply works, and we don’t need to keep developing, improving and fixing things all the time.
2. Versatility. Chopsticks can be used for picking up all kinds of food; meat, veg, rice, even the bones from fish, because by nature, their simplicity means that they are adaptable. Instead of aiming for a niche in an attempt to find a ‘gap in the market’, or to fill a hole that probably doesn’t need filling, they cater to a wide range purposes. Imagine being like chopsticks in this way, able to appeal to many people because you are useful, without worrying about being ‘more innovative’ or ‘better’ in anyway. They just do what they are made to do, they just are.
3. Aim. If you’ve ever tried using them, you know that you can’t get what you want by just haphazardly stabbing at the plate. To be able to get what you want, you have to aim for it. There’s no way you can pick up everything in one go. Know what you want, and just do it. Sometimes, a little bit of focus makes the difference between failure and success.
4. Practice. Using chopsticks doesn’t come naturally. You have to learn to use them and practice it. But how will you learn? Should you just read about it? Most would agree that there’s no better way to practice than to look at the delicious food in front of you and tell yourself that you can’t have any until you can use the chopstick to get it. In real life, you can read as much as you like about all the things you want to do, but it will just amount to dreams and theory if you don’t try actually doing it. Don’t just watch others eating, put yourself out there and give the chopsticks a go.
5. Slowing Down. A common health tip is to try to eat with chopsticks when you can. Why? Because it slows you down and allows your stomach to tell your brain your’re full before you overeat. Eating with chopsticks is a slower process, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes we need to slow down and take things one step at a time, break it down at each stage so that we have time to think, to realise that we’re actually full and that we don’t have to keep charging full speed through life.
Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy each morsel of life as it comes.