One of my proudest moments in immediately generating a spur-of-the-moment humorous ad lib was a private conversation with my wife over coffee… well, I do coffee and she does tea, but the principle of morning banter is the same. I was in a silly mood and cracking jokes and she commented that I could probably make a up a joke about anything: “Just stare at that wall and say something funny!” Without missing a beat I replied, “Oh. You want one of those off-the-wall jokes.” OK, not hilarious, but I can be proud of occasionally accomplishing individual creativity when it seems to come from nowhere. When I mentioned to her that I was having trouble coming up with a non-HR related topic for my Sunday blog post, she looked at me without speaking the words, “Who are you and what have you done with my husband?” I think I have totally misled her into believing that there is an infinite treasure trove of ideas that I can call on at a moment’s notice… or faster. I just said, “Ah, OK time for an off-the-wall idea.
The phrase “off-the-wall” is a double entendre to me. Not only can I remember a time that “text” was not a verb, I can remember when “wallpaper” was something found on a physical wall and not a decoration on a virtual internet page. I’m absolutely sure that posting a cat picture on on someone’s “wall” today stems from breaking into someone’s cave and scrawling a picture of a mastodon on their wall. How much unwanted crap do we put on walls that people eventually have to remove? I can remember years ago moving into a house that was perfect for my family with the exception of the hideous wallpaper in every room. Remembering comments from the realtor, the years living there was a constant battle to remove all the wall tattoos and leave it as smooth and unblemished as a baby’s butt for the next buyer.
The electronic wallpaper concept is one that I have totally embraced even though the glue-to-the-wall type seems to have cycles of cultural approval and disapproval. Tastefully decorated walls in a home have a tendency to become distasteful over time, so the baby butt bare walls are usually preferred by realtors. All of my computers, my iPad and iPhone all sport the same wallpaper: the Hubbell Space Telescope photo of the M-101 pinwheel galaxy. Considering that the light we see from there left on its journey to our telescopes over 24 million years ago, it has not gone out of style and is not likely to change in our lifetime. That is not the case with the crap that some others put on my wall and their personal space about fleeting political ideas or selfies that give narcissism a new meaning. Personal branding on our wall postings is also a fad that will not be remembered forever. I am not the same person today I was 10 years ago and hopefully the next 10 years will be one for reflecting and improving myself and not just an image.
What is the wallpaper of your mind and soul? Is it the image of you that you want others to see? Or will you be constantly scraping and painting to make it appear differently. Someday we all realize that appearances can be deceiving.