There are two quotes that have latched onto my mind lately and they will not let go. They are two quotes that best address the deficiencies, the failures, the delays of my twenties.
I’m a thinker. I think. I overthink. I’m a planner. I plan. I overplan. And I do nothing substantial and nothing with consistency for a fear of either doing the wrong thing or doing the right thing poorly. It’s a circular kind of logic. I’ve half-committed to many things knowing that they would fail, and they did, of course, because I only half-committed.
The first quote is from General George S. Patton:
A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.
I was always a perfect planner, but perfect plans require perfect conditions and by the time you’ve arrived at perfection those conditions have changed. I rather like the idea of pushing through chaos and finding the proper path in the midst of bullets, smoke, and explosions. You don’t have time for the perfect plan when all you care for is that your next footstep propels you forward, so you can find the next one, and the next one, and eventually carry yourself out.
The perfect plan, I believe, cannot actually be planned. The conditions do change. It’s better said that the perfect plan is found.
Author Neil Gaiman told of an interaction he had with Gene Wolfe. Upon completing a first draft, he told Wolfe he thought he had finally learned to write a novel. Wolfe smiled and said, "You never learn how to write a novel, you only learn to write the novel you’re on." This can be said of most undertakings, certainly the most worthwhile.
The second quote comes from Nassim Nicholas Taleb:
Suckers try to win arguments. Nonsuckers try to win.
As someone who primarily thinks, all of creation is an argument and the internal motivation is to somehow achieve a unified theory, something that makes everything definitively coherent and logical, so that we can all abide by that order.
But if you’ve lived in this universe long enough, you’ll know that truth isn’t necessarily so neat and tidy. Often times, it’s paradoxical. The truth is this and the truth is that. Both. At the same time. And that isn’t to say truth is relative. It is not. Truth is simply beyond human logic.
So if I want to sit and theorize and try to make sense of it all, I can. And I will go on losing. And I will never arrive at any definite conclusion, except that I’ve lost.
Suckers try to win arguments.
That is to say, suckers try to create a logical basis for demanding other people live within their logical basis.
Nonsuckers try to win.
This implies to me that, in order to win, it is necessary to stop trying to connect the dots, stop demanding nonparadoxical explanations and detailed instructions from the universe and instead follow simple cause and effect.
If I do this, that happens. Logic be damned. Nothing has to make sense if the outcome is achieved.
In my mind, these quotes live together. If the aim is to win, then you focus on doing what it takes to win. If you know what it takes to win, set yourself in that direction and move.
Inveniam viam, aut faciam.
Let me find a way, or make one.