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The Tinkered Mind
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March 19th, 2021
It’s so fun to push the instructions off to the side and just go for it. Certainly, not everyone enjoys this frivolous approach. Some people are utterly paralyzed without step-by-step instructions.
The cowboy, as he is popularly held in imagination is a frontier’s character. One that pushes into the unknown without a plan, but solidly equipped with creative methods for dealing with everything and anything the unknown might hold.
Are these methods ideal, or the most efficient? Certainly not, though perhaps. Blazing a trail is a laborious and inefficient process. The trail, once established, represents the efficient set of instructions about how to proceed forward.
So, when does the cowboy follow the instructions? The kitchen is a good place to zero in on for this discussion. Cooking can be a very fun, creative, and forgiving avenue for creativity. Baking, on the other hand isn’t as forgiving. Baking requires a good set of instructions because deviations often result in disaster. Stir fries, on the other hand are a kind melange, a mess that can work in a near infinite number of combinations. The stir fry, with it’s forgiving flexibility is like the realm of the frontier: it’s easier to try something new and get away with it.
Both the way of the cowboy and that of step by step instructions embody two different perspectives. Because any thoughtful consideration realizes that even the instructions for a cake had to be discovered. Such a thing could not be deduced. There was certainly many inglorious attempts to produce cake similar to any desserts attempted today by those who only give the instructions a cursory glance. This is at the heart of why and how the ability to ‘cowboy’ is essential: it’s the way we discover instructions. The ability to simply follow instructions - to invoke the recipe perfectly can only get us as far as we’ve already gone. But the ability to cowboy allows us to move further - it allows us to discover the new, even if what is discovered is a new way about how NOT to do something.
The instructions of the cowboy are more like guidelines. Like a compass that points vaguely north, all that’s often needed is a bird’s eye view of what’s going on. Details can get ironed out later. What matter’s most is that we’re headed in the right direction, and that’s only possible with a temporary disregard of specifics in favor of larger perspective the includes both the current situation and the ideal destination in the distance.