Tuesday, June 28, 2005

As Far as the Headlights Go

As Far as the Headlights Go

I wasn't planning to blog tonight as I've been doing so continuously for the past seven days. Moreover I'm feeling a bit tired after a whole day of meetings downtown. But as I was flipping through a book that happened to lie on my desk, I chanced upon the following quote:

Writing a book is like driving a car at night. You only see as far as your headlights go, but you can make the whole trip that way.

- E.L. Doctorow
That principle certainly applies to the way I blog: I often start an entry not exactly knowing how I will proceed, but I can see "as far as the headlights go". It could be a fragment of thought, or a quote from some book, or an interesting observation I made during the day; these things would kick me off and and I plough on, word by word, sentence by setence and soon I would have another entry to mark the day.

Doctorow's writing principle applies to life too. Often we cannot see too far ahead into the future. So we tackle what's immediately in front of us, one thing at a time. We cannot worry too much about what lies in the distant future. Take the opportunity that comes. Move ahead with conviction. If your headlights happen to show a bend ahead, negotiate it carefully. Always be ready for the unexpected.

When you drive at night, your eyes cannot wander elsewhere simply because it is too dark for you to see anything. So you train your eyes on where the headlights shine. It is where attention should be focussed on. Similarly in life, we have to focus on the task that's immediately at hand. Deal with it and move on to the next task.

It could be quite frustrating sometimes because there's so much uncertainty in life. But that's how fate reveals its plot to us--incident by incident, always with unexpected twists and turns. But if we know how put on our headlights and focus our attention on where it shines, we can be confident of navigating through the entire journey quite safely.

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