Here’s The Thing

Here’s the thing. Since the outline is always there either prospectively or retrospectively, seeing it doesn’t seem like it should be such a hit and miss kind of thing for me. Even more confounding is thinking that I see the outline but learning later that the outline I picked was the wrong outline. I don’t get it. A good or at least sufficient outline is always there, so why do I sometimes pick the wrong outline or skip over the outline thing altogether?

I’m embarrassed to admit to how many times I have glanced at the instructions for one thing or another and tossed them aside or even worse, didn’t even bother with a glance. Granted, that usually works out but sometimes things don’t quite get the outcome I expect. More often than I want to admit, the outcome is far worse than I could have imagined. That happens with written instructions but also comes up when I don’t listen to the directions or advice of people who should and do know better than I do. I just plough ahead.

At other times, I know I don’t know what to do or how to do things but decide to proceed anyway. I tell myself things like I’ll fake it until I make it or perhaps convince myself that I can get away with making it up as I go along. Since I’m confessing, the truth is that I think I’m smart enough and clever enough to get away with just acting like I know what I’m doing.

Here’s the thing. There are times when the outline is not accessible and other times when the outline is accessible but suspect. The point is that outlines, instructions and advice aren’t always reliable, and following them would be a mistake. Just because I know what I’m supposed to do or how I’m supposed to proceed doesn’t mean that that is automatically the best way to go. It’s that personal judgment and personal responsibility thing.

I suppose it would be easier or at least safer to always use the most familiar or perhaps the most popular outline for everything. I could just keep it between the lines, as defined by someone else of course. If I get a less than satisfying outcome or should things end up in a mess, I have a handy out. I can fall back on pointing out that I followed the rules, did what I was supposed to do, played the game but just had bad luck. The unfortunate outcome was certainly not my fault, not due to my poor judgment, not something I could have reasonably been expected to anticipate or avoid. Sure, it was just bad luck.

The upside of following the outline is that, if things work out for me, I don’t have to give any credit to the outline or to those who developed the outline before me. My success is due to my cleverness, my persistence, and general brilliance. It’s a neat package. When things work out, I’m awesome and when they don’t, I’m just unlucky.

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