What is style? Is it fashion? Is it matching colors on a well-dressed man? Is it a certain type of behavior in the way you walk? It’s hard to define, but I’d argue that everything memorable in this world has style, and that style makes life interesting, exciting, and have purpose because nobody likes bland, boring things.
Think about it: all the best, most memorable artists, businessmen, politicians, historical figures, etc had some sort of style to what they did and it helped them stand out and become successful. Picasso was Picasso because he chose the colors he chose, he placed the lines down the way he did, and added texture where he added texture. When you look at a Picasso’s work (particularly his most famous work), it looks incredibly easy because most of it is just a bunch of shapes. But if you try to make your own “Picasso”, you’d find that it’s a bit more difficult than that. You quickly realize that his style is actually pretty difficult to duplicate if you are not a very skilled artist, and no matter how hard you try even if you are, you will never be Picasso.
There’s a famous lyric from Jonathan Richman’s song “When Harpo Played His Harp” that says,
“When Harpo played his harp it was a dream it was.
If someone else can do it how come nobody does?
Groucho, Groucho, fast as light
Some talk like him, but not quite.
And when Harpo played his harp, all was still.”
It’s true: The Marx Brothers’ comedy has been so unique and unable to be duplicated for over 80 years! The difference between them and anybody remotely close to imitating them is the difference between Coca Cola with carbonation and Coca Cola without it: the absence of a simple ingredient can make something seem so flat, boring, and unlikable.
This extends beyond painters and comedians too. A little research into the military tactics of Julius Caesar will reveal that the man simply was a military genius; he proved to be very successful in most of his campaigns simply because he came up with creative and innovative strategies unlike anyone else, especially his opponents. Even Jesus tells his disciples that they are “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13), meaning that they are what adds flavor to this world, which many say can essentially be said for human beings in general.
Another important thing to note about all of these people is that they all are artists in their own right, whether it be in the common form of a painter or the less expected form of a military leader. These people did what they did but with style that separated them from everybody else similar to them. They created a profound canvas of ideas, statements, and solutions that inspired future generations of thinkers, do-ers, and even imitators just by tapping into their abilities and doing things with style.
Obviously style isn’t necessary in all aspects of life. It’s unnecessary to strut like John Travolta down every street you walk and it’s pretentious to talk like Shakespeare every time you try to make a point. However, it comes into play when you are striving for success. Look at companies like Apple, Volkswagen, and Geico. You may or may not care for their products and services, but you most likely have seen their products and services and remember their advertisements.
But what does all this mean?? Does one have to be some innovative genius in their field in order to truly serve a purpose??
No, not at all. It simply means that if we truly are the spice of life, and that there is an option to do something beyond what’s bland and common, everybody has the ability to take that option by opening up their eyes, paying attention to the millions of art forms around them, and learning to spot the difference between a fresh coca cola and a flat coca cola. You don’t have to be “beautiful”, you don’t have to be super talented, and you don’t have to be a prodigy to stand out. You simply have to learn to cut through the clutter. Otherwise, you may find yourself lost in a maze of cubicles somewhere doing a mundane job you may not enjoy, and nobody completely likes things that are boring and monotonous.