Making It Up As We Go Along

Ever since I was a kid, I have enjoyed random acts of exploration and discovery; in other words, "making things up as I go along." For example, my love for mystery rides, which I got from my mom. "Let's try this road. We've never taken it before," she would say. And off we would go on an adventure.

I know that in this culture's socialization process, we learn that "making it up as we go along," is not a good thing. It smacks of not having a goal or a plan, of wasteful meandering, of aimlessness.

Thanks to David Zinger, I found author Richard Oliver's manifesto on "purposive drift" where he meditates on this bias, wondering why the "machine culture" of goals, schedules and project plans, has triumphed over the improvisatory navigation of "making it up as we go along" as a way of being in life.

One of Oliver's images is a cork bobbing along in a stream, carried by the current to who-knows-where. It reminded me of putting a leaf into a running stream and watching it get carried away by the moving water. I've always loved to do that. And when my sons were little, it was something they enjoyed doing too.

I guess I'm more of a purposive drift type than a machine type. More imaginative, creative, and open to the magic of chance.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, March 20, 2009

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