yes-reply #04


I was fortunate enough this week to be invited by a dear friend to an impromptu hike in Mount Tamborine. My friend insists hikes are a metaphor for life, and as much as I laughed at her - you are going to have to excuse my conjuring this exact metaphor. I lamented to her, on the drive before the hike itself, of feeling lost in relation to my direction. I’m supposed to be a full-time writer at the moment, but I feel unproductive. I don’t write enough, I don’t read enough, how am I going to reach my goals?

After the hiking trip I saw this video by Derek Muller and it communicated something I’ve long had an intuitive sense about. To be an expert you need more than 10,000 hours of practice - you also need regular and timely feedback on your practice. I am acutely feeling this at the moment. I am no longer being marked at university, nor do I have a boss watching over my shoulder, I’m quietly pottering along and trying to make myself into an artist. How do I know if I’m doing it right?

But my friend reminds me it’s like a hike. A cliché of taking the first step, of trusting the path and seeing where it will take you. I threw myself into the hike, resisted the urge to check the map on my phone and I followed the path.

When we broke for lunch on that hike though, I trusted my gut and checked the map. We had followed the path, but my GPS showed we had overshot the planned route somehow. I explained this to my friend, and she didn’t believe me to begin with, but we double checked - our trust in the path took us away from where we were meant to be.

Cliche image of path disappearing in background

In the end the path would bring us back to where we meant to be, and here lies a cheap metaphor about how the journey was unexpected but ultimately ended in the right place. But I think that is wrong. Because after that moment I realised we were lost, there were still forks in the path - the difference was instead of blindly supposing direction I listened to my intuition.

There was a shift in mood after the luncheon-realisation, my water began to run out and we took the hike seriously. We still had fun and took time to admire butterflies, but we treated our situation with the respect it deserved and the active engagement it demanded. At one point I suggested following a creek - a more direct route - but my friend wisely counselled against it. The best decision, was to follow the path but not with deference, rather to follow the path with active judgement.

I suppose that’s my metaphor.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Gillanders

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