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

"Blowing It Up Better."

I consider it perfectly normal to start off in the wrong direction. We are after all, humans, 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 significant course correction. However, if one's headed in the wrong direction, it might 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 to fix.

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 intentions. They genuinely believed their direction was correct or close enough not to matter 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 reactions 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 as 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 king’s horses couldn’t put old Humpty together again, even with all the king’s men assisting. They scream for disruption.

It's a radical move that might feel like a defeat in the moment. The next move looks 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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