Selected Excerpts from Chapter 8 - Triumph of the Trivial

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Doing all of something is about as basic as goals get. It generally only takes a few minutes of research to define your adventures for weeks, months or years to come. I suppose it ought to be said that the “all” you choose should be something that you really want to do “all” of. A goal of having your teeth cleaned at every dentist within your county is not going to be an effective goal, unless you get a particular charge out of having your teeth cleaned. Having a goal of eating a hot fudge sundae at every ice cream parlor in your county would be an effective goal, unless you are a dentist.

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My parents can be a bit impulsive and this has, occasionally, served them very well. A few years back they spontaneously climbed into their car and began driving north. They kept driving north until they crossed into Canada and somewhere along the way they set their goal to drive as far north as they could. Soon they were in the northern reaches of Eastern Canada and the roads were running out. At the very furthest north they could reach by car, there was a train station so they left their car and rode the train until all that was left was wilderness and bush pilots. Having arrived at their extremely arbitrary goal, they turned around and drove home. That adventure was absolute simplicity, and I find it thoroughly inspiring. Maybe it is genetic, but I use their idea on a much smaller, and local, scale. Many times I have grabbed a stopwatch and started walking to see how far I can get in 30 minutes.

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There is one final type of goal that I should mention that almost seems like an anti-goal: deliberate randomness. Occasional we’ll play “Left-Right” in the car. That simply means we drive until we hit a left turn and we take it. Then we drive until we hit a right turn and we take it. This continues until we are thoroughly lost. The idea of being lost can make people very uneasy and I certainly wouldn’t encourage it in wilderness areas or New York City. But attempting to become lost in an area in which you are familiar can force you into the unfamiliar. The nice thing about becoming lost in a familiar area is that you will eventually stumble on something you recognize and will be able to find your way home (which is why you shouldn’t do it in a wilderness area – New York has its own reasons for not doing it).


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