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Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen: Truth and the Two Soldiers (1891)

"Blowing It Up Better."

I consider it to be perfectly normal to start off in the wrong direction. We are, after all, human, and humans have always excelled at heading off in some wrong direction, often for the very best of reasons. Anyone, at any time, remains perfectly capable of making just such a mistake. The only question might be how long it will take before one notices and takes corrective action. Any of an array of familiar responses might emerge whenever a human finally notices their error. (A different set appears when we notice someone else in error.) Some will attempt corrective action, just as if the fix should not require any major course correction, though if one's headed in the wrong direction, it might well require anything up to and including a one hundred and eighty degree deflection. I usually manage a fix in more like a dozen similarly wrong-headed attempts at correction.

The issue at hand rarely seems to be a question of intent.
For most purposes, one can safely assume that if a human is headed in some wrong direction, they headed there with the very best of intentions. They genuinely believed their direction the correct one, or close enough to not matter that much. Sometimes, we're just trying to break the inertia of stuckness, so the direction of motion might not matter so much at first. Later, though, trajectory comes into question, after already having made some considerable investment in what became the wrong direction. In those moments, it's not unknown and also not inhuman, to double down on the wrong direction and start gaining speed and momentum, continuing, even faster, in the wrong direction.

These situations might call for more than a mere course correction. They might require a genuine Anything But That! response, for the incumbent to consider all the responses he might invoke before choosing the one he would never deliberately select. Those situations need a little BlowingItUp to affect much change. They've usually become some form of inexorable. They've become as spoiled as a coddled eight year old and just a resistant to change. They need their legs cut out from beneath them, to crash and burn, to Humpty Dumpty from a wall such that all the kings horses, even with all the king's men assisting, couldn't put old Humpty together again. They scream for disruption.

It's a radical move, one which might well feel like a defeat in the moment. The next move will probably look like, from the perspective of any objective observer, as if you've just walked away from even playing the game. You will appear to have just given up, as if you were surrendering to superior forces, and perhaps you are. There eventually comes a point where controlled flight no longer seems reasonable, where taking hands off the steering wheel seems like the most rational way of steering. One assigns their fate to The Gods in that moment and, almost always, The Gods respond by utterly reorganizing the proceedings. A fresh course heading emerges after a few hours or days of remorse. Yes, of course you broke it. It never seems better until better emerges from what certainly must have seemed like the worst possible circumstances. BlowingItUp Better sometimes seems like the only way to achieve Success.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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