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Decisions and revisions - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
Decisions and revisions
How do we seek out the things we want from life?

Do we sit down and work out where we want to be, what steps are necessary to get there, and then launch our n-stage plan into action? Or do we simply play it by ear, feel our way towards something better?

There may be some people who have this kind of focus, but experience suggests that the vast majority of people are merely stumbling around in the dark, finding out what works and what doesn't, repeating the things that seem to work and avoiding the things that don't.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Grand Plan, while it can be a great dream to hang on to, can also be its own stumbling-block; it's too big, too all-encompassing, it incorporates too many major life changes which we can't make all at once. In trying to do everything at once we end up doing nothing at all, falling on the first step.

The first step is to take a step. Meaningless? Obvious? Think about walking from one side of the room to the other. How do you do it? You take one step forward. You don't step from where you are straight to the other side of the room; you just put one foot in front of the other. Maybe they're imperceptibly small steps. Maybe you're just shuffling an inch at a time. But you're moving.

Maybe you don't even know where you want to be. Most people don't. If all you know is that you don't want to be on this side of the room, take a step away from where you are. It's the first step that matters. And every step is the first step.
"So leave the ways that are making you be what you really don't want to be
Leave the ways that are making you love what you really don't want to love"

There are as many ways as there are people. Maybe more. Some of us follow the signposts; some of us wander into the woods without needing a path; some of us take the path of least resistance, the road worn smooth by a million feet. (Some of us sit and stare into the river at Parson's Pleasure.) The paths have a power of their own, the force of memory and myth; they can guide us, but if we let them, they will shape us and own us.

* * *

I am treading and retreading a path that is beginning to own me. I am wandering around the same few (half-deserted) streets like a drunken man, my sense of purpose and urgency made farcical by my lack of direction.

I have been wandering this way for some time. (Oxford, Cambridge, London ... Unreal.) I cling to the illusion of progress, because the times and the places are passing me by as I walk in the same tired ways. I need to step aside, but there's a crowd all around me, all flowing in the same direction. (I had not thought death had undone so many.) I have gathered this crowd around me, I asked them to travel with me, but now the path has gained its own momentum.

There's always a jolt when you step off a moving walkway, a moment while your feet catch up and remember how to walk entirely on their own.

It's the first step that matters. And every step is the first step.
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Comments
rbarclay From: rbarclay Date: May 14th, 2003 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Do we sit down and work out where we want to be, what steps are necessary to get there, and then launch our n-stage plan into action? Or do we simply play it by ear, feel our way towards something better?

Most people I've talked about this (and myself) do a bit of both. Have a not-all-too-precise goal, and if decisions are to be made, make them with that goal in mind.
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j4 From: j4 Date: May 14th, 2003 04:54 am (UTC) (Link)
<grin> Like it.
keirf From: keirf Date: May 14th, 2003 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
But at my back in a cold blast I hear
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.
keirf From: keirf Date: May 14th, 2003 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for reminding me of that poem; I used to know it off by heart but I'd forgotten about it. And given that we've just left April and there are all these storms and the thunder, it certainly fits.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 14th, 2003 04:57 am (UTC) (Link)
The Waste Land is burned into my brain. It's a part of the way I think.

Anybody who hasn't read it, GO AND READ IT.
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bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: May 14th, 2003 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Am I excused if I read it yesterday? I really did, you know. For no particular reason (well, I started out looking for a quote and then it just... flowed).

Life Plans. Hmmm. All I can say is I had one, once. All of it got me to where I am now, none of it is currently in operation or is obvious/capable of being inferred from outside observation of the way I live. I wouldn't go back and change things now (although I'd like to erase a few years), although obviously being staggeringly rich and famous would be nice. :-)
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: May 14th, 2003 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)
When I was 2O I had a life plan. When I was 25 I had achieved almost all of it. I'm just gone 30. When I was told to wish on the first star, the other night, I could not think of anything personal I wish to wish for - geopolitical, and good stuff for friends, yes, but not for me. I would appear to have most of what I want, and what's left, I'm happy to win or lose on my own merits. This is deeply crogglesome.

A journey of a thousand miles only has to begin with a single step until you learn how to fly.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 15th, 2003 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is deeply crogglesome.

EXPN crogglesome? (I honestly can't tell from this description whether you view the current state of affairs as a good thing, a bad thing, or not quite unequivocally either.)

A journey of a thousand miles only has to begin with a single step until you learn how to fly.

Thank you, JLS. :-)
j4 From: j4 Date: May 15th, 2003 06:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is deeply crogglesome.

EXPN crogglesome? (I honestly can't tell from this description whether you view the current state of affairs as a good thing, a bad thing, merely an odd thing, or some/all/none/fewer of the above.)

A journey of a thousand miles only has to begin with a single step until you learn how to fly.

Thank you, JLS. :-)
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: May 14th, 2003 09:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Tried reading the TSE poem in your comment, but I don't read poetry for pleasure by habit and so it lost me within thirty lines. Will try again later.

How do we seek out the things we want from life?

Do we sit down and work out where we want to be, what steps are necessary to get there, and then launch our n-stage plan into action? Or do we simply play it by ear, feel our way towards something better?


I have neither answers nor ways of trying to solve the problem and this worries me. I know things I'd like to do (my old ambitions list) and things which make me happy (see my last post) but these aren't the same thing. In a sense, they're only distractions.

I have a nasty feeling that there is no answer and this is something we all have to work out for ourselves what works, but I don't want this to be the case.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 15th, 2003 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
In a sense, they're only distractions.

Maybe the distractions are the point? Having fun along the way, meeting fellow travellers, telling stories, admiring the scenery... rather than worrying about where you're going?

I have a nasty feeling that there is no answer and this is something we all have to work out for ourselves what works, but I don't want this to be the case.

Why not?
ewx From: ewx Date: May 14th, 2003 11:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure I'm stumbling along in the dark as such, but it's not like I've got a Grand Plan either; about my most ambitious medium term goal right now seems to be to reduce my unread list. Things like improving bits of the house seem too remote somehow.
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