Discovering the Shortest Route

I’m currently working on a new project, something I’ve never done before. I don’t know how to operate the software required. I’m not even sure how to judge whether the outcome of what I’m making is good. I’m a complete novice at this activity.

Still, I can envision a time when I’ll be proficient at it; someday in the (hopefully not too distant) future, doing it will feel second-nature. Getting there will require lots of work. I’ll need to discover shortcuts, find more natural ways of doing ordinary things. I’ve already found a few in my short time doing this, and I’m sure to discover a few more.

In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius offers the following advice:

Always run by the shortest route; and the shortest is that which follows nature, and leads us to say and do everything in the soundest fashion.

When you’re working on something entirely new, the shortest route is unknown to you. You must find it, usually in small incremental steps. This requires lots of false starts, lots of wasted effort. It requires being comfortable with mistakes; being open to starting over. There can be joy in this process — if you know to look for it and adopt the proper attitude.