I went to Chipotle for a burrito and they gave it to me in a bag that had a short essay printed on it. I was captivated by it as I read. The title was “Two Minutes of Rambling Wisdom,” and it was by Judd Apatow, a successful writer, director, and producer of comedy films and TV shows.
The on the bag was also a web address: chipotle.com/cultivatingthought. As a nation-wide restaurant chain, they would surely have done market research before creating this series, and I take the very title, “Cultivating Thought,” it as evidence of their clientele’s identification with cultivating a higher quality of thinking.
The essay began this way.
When I was in high school there were 500 people in my graduating class. Out of those 500 people I had two best friends and five other real friends. So I had a true connection with seven people and did not have a true connection with 493 people. Now I create stories and hope that 500 out of 500 people will appreciate the work. That is impossible. I don’t love most things I see or listen to, why should they? The truth is I should be happy with seven people being touched or amused by my work. I think it is okay to accept the fact that most people won’t get you.
How true this is! Many of the people I know have messages for the world, but they find only a small number of people resonate with their message in the way they present it.
Then he gets into his core message.
We don’t need to like each other so much. We need to be kind and respect each other. Don’t be a jerk. Try to love everyone.
Reading this, I was surprised, delighted, impressed, and envious. He is proclaiming universal love—my message—and doing so with a success that vastly surpasses my own. His way of communicating has keen observation, a personal flavor, a touch of humor, and some very direct relating with the reader. He mentions high school, which just about everyone who reads this essay can identify with in present experience, short-term memory, or long-term memory. Skilled. Or not: on the website he responds to interview questions, and let us know , “I wrote it quickly and didn’t think about it too much before and after. I hoped it would inspire people and give some perspective about life and creativity. I only found my own perspective about eight days ago.”
First observation: skilled yes, but also spontaneous.
Second observation: after tons of work and success, the clarity that we have in this essay was very recent. That certainly matches my own, far less successful experience. Clarity dawns late in the game, even though we may seem to have it early on.
Let’s listen to the rest of the essay.
Give more than you take. And do it despite the fact that you only really like about seven out of 500 people. Being cool to the other 493 people is a great thing to do because you want those same 493 people to not give you a hard time when you run into them while ordering your burrito at Chipotle or on an airplane or during an international conflict or just a potential road rage incident. Life will be better for all of us if we want all 500 to be happy.
Now a new honesty emerges. It started out with the seven who understood and liked his work, and here’s a confession about the small proportion of people that he can sincerely say he “really likes.” But we can “be cool” to everyone . . . and we can want them to be happy. No time for philosophy about the meaning of happiness. The point is that there is a place we can get to—people would express it differently—of wanting everyone to be happy. (If we start analyzing this it will force us into a more complex discourse.) Loving and really liking are different.
In all these reflections, I find that the essay and Chipotle’s initiative has truly stimulated my thought. And among the most important take-aways for me is the implicit invitation-challenge of this essay: We should continue developing your own ways of communicating our message of universal love, fair treatment, and support for others’ happiness. To do so in a way that is spontaneous and honest and reflective at the same time, reaching out to others realistically, sincerely, and . . . with love!