Gnomicon 161

If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.

Gnomicon  161
Wednesday 17 October 2012
Read gnomica 1-150 here!

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The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
Amelia Earhart (24 Jul 1897 – ? 2 Jul 1937)

She anticipated the NIKE trademark (“Just Do It”) by a few years, but I suppose it comes down to the same thing:  no agonizing Hamlets here!

A favorite psychological device of mine for not doing something that needs to get done is to think about it for a while.  Sometime a looooong while.  There is a kind of rote filtering preprocesser unit somewhere in my head that thoughtlessly follows a programmed algorithm of avoidance repertoires masquerading as prudence.

First, is this thing that I need to do really necessary?  Perhaps there are alternative, easier, more comfortable routines that I could activate and would achieve the same ends.  That’s always good for a certain valid procrastination before impulsively driving myself to action.  Haste makes waste, as it were, or, as the first Roman emperor Augustus (23 Sep 63 BCE – 19 Aug 14 CE) used to say so oxymoronically, festina lente (a translation of the Greek σπεῦδε βραδέως speude bradeōs  ‘hurry slowly’).

Second, having decided (reluctantly) that it really does have to be done, I must consider how to do it.  One’s mental machinery is highly adaptive to and fond of these ostensibly sensible forms of delay and postponement.  One runs out in one’s head not only the action itself but its possible as well as likely consequences, good and bad, and each of these must of course be further contemplated and rejected or accepted as the way to go about executing what needs to be executed.

Third, having made a decision to act and the commitment to same, one goes to work – but, in the eternal interests of a cautious discretion, one weighs each step, treads carefully, finally moves.

Each of these three stages can of course be almost infinitely atomized and sub-atomized to the point that effective action is paralyzed and nothing gets done.  Imagine if Amelia Earhart had worked through in her mental algorithm every possible branching in the process and what might or could or would happen as a consequence … well, she might never have taken that fateful flight.

As with so many polarities in one’s life, there is much to be said for rashly going right at whatever it is, and there is much to be said for a prudently deliberating retardation of execution.

That point is clear.

What is not so clear is when to do which — when whatever it is that is to be done truly needs to be put on hold and when that postponement is just another form of paralysis unrelated in any essential sense to the situational exigencies.

Well, as you can see for yourself, one can easily and agonizingly dither on and on about this while life moves ahead and away from you.  Still and all, caution is not always a misplaced modus operandi any more than acting is always a reckless one.

You pick!

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