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HeadlightsAndDecisions

Anne Lamott, in Bird By Bird, writes:

E. L. Doctorow once said that "writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.

Nice sentiments! On the other hand (and there is always another hand!) it helps tactical decisionmaking to have a strategic viewpoint --- a large-scale map of the situation, so that the right local battles can be fought to lead toward global victory. In writing, it helps to have an outline (or at least a general vision) of the final product. In living, it helps to have a long-term plan (save, invest, study, learn, work, marry, raise the kids, pay off the mortgage, think, etc.).

Always, immediate conditions must guide today's actions, but in the light of the larger context. Never let a lack of complete information paralyze the will, but don't act precipitously either. You're not omniscient; some things aren't predictable. Refusing to decide is a decision; deciding prematurely is also a decision. Wisdom lies in balancing the two.

Sunday, June 27, 1999 at 06:13:40 (EDT) = Datetag19990627

TopicLife - TopicLiterature


(correlates: TripleThrills, Worth of a State, FunVersusEntertainment, ...)

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