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The Tinkered Mind
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July 20th, 2020
Life is full of detours. Maybe it’s all detours. No one plans their life completely, and those who attempt to do so often find themselves thwarted in counter-intuitive ways. There’s so much we just don’t see coming.
But what sort of choice do we make when an option comes floating by that seems fun?
But I’m heading in a different direction…
This would make me late…
I don’t know where that leads…
All valid points, but they each have a polar corollary that frames the situation as full of juicy possibility. Now here’s an important tidbit about getting old. When most of life is behind you, very few regrets will be about things you actually did. Most of your wonder regarding the past will be about the things you didn’t do: the chances you didn’t seize, the idea you didn’t pursue, the detour you didn’t take.
How does one negotiate these spicy pockets of possibility? Well, if it’s anything like a real detour, then it means we can always just backtrack to get back to where we started and then continue on our way. It might take a little time, but if we have time to spare, why not?
It’s certainly an entirely different deal if the detour is like a one-way valve and the door shuts and automatically locks the moment we venture off our normal path. That sort of opportunity would require quite a bit more consideration. A path that decreases the possibilities of life must have a huge benefit attached to it, otherwise, we should be wary by default. Such definitive paths aren’t actually detours by definition. If the door slams shut behind us, and we can somehow be sure the new path won’t loop back around to our initial path…then this certainly isn’t a detour, and the temptation must be quite promising.
Fate makes no promises, though. And this is why ‘the detour’ is such a useful way of looking at opportunities. The detour is the essential constituent of exploration, and without a map marked with an X, the detours we take are the only paths that might lead to treasure.
If life can be designed in a way that is open to more potential detours than we create optionality. The ability to take a detour is perhaps the quintessential opposite of being a cog in a system. Cogs can’t take detours without causing a lot of trouble. And likewise, an explorer who sticks to the beaten path will find nothing new.
If the detour presents itself, why not take it?