Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dead Reckoning Or Pilotage?

Life isn’t a destination. It’s a series of checkpoints.

I'll bet when you get to know folks who do those kinds of things, you'll find they conduct their lives pretty much the same way. At some point they decided what kind of life they were going to lead and took off living that way. They'd let the winds of change and chance happenings bend their life course but they'd keep their minds pointed in the same general direction so they were always making progress toward their original goal. Their course may have curved around a bit, but it always came back on point with their eventual goal centered straight ahead. Lots of us can't do that.

First, many of us are incapable of picking a given destination for our life. We have no specific place we want to be at a given time. And if you don't know where you're going, you can't pick a heading. Besides, one thought constantly nags at us: If you do pick a given heading, what do you do, if you arrive at your destination and don't like it?
A lot of us can't do pure dead reckoning because we like poking our noses into strange airports along the way just to see what we can see.
Lots of us go through life bouncing from checkpoint to checkpoint because we're not very adventurous: We like to know where we are and what kind of progress we're making every inch of the way. I, for one, positively hate that worrisome feeling that settles into the back of your mind when, although you know you're not lost, you don't know exactly where you are either. For that reason, I always keep my personal checkpoints, my goals, close enough together that I can't get off course very far, no matter what happens. With that kind of thinking, if we just kept on keepin' on, we'll make it through to the next checkpoint.

A lot of us also can't do pure dead reckoning on a cross-country because we like poking our noses into strange airports along the way just to see what we can see. Visualizing a long trip as a series of very short hops lets us do that. My own curiosity won't let me overfly an inviting-looking grass runway without at least making a low pass down its centerline. And this is pretty much the way a lot of us see life: There are far too many cool distractions along the way to stick to a given course. It's probably a form of ADD. but it's fun. And it's interesting. But, of course, it takes folks like me a lot longer to get where we're going. However, since we don't really know where we're going in the first place, our ETA isn't worth worrying about. We'll get there, when we get there.

I guess what I'm saying is that for a lot of us, the destination doesn't really matter: It's the journey that counts.

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