The Journey Metaphor: @michaeldila on Fuzzy Goals & El Dorado

Michael Dila picks up Tara’s “Unclear Path” and riffs on it, adding in a couple of important points about this journey/traveler metaphor:

“What kind of people would rather take the hard way than the easy way? People who are looking for something, but don’t know what it is. There is a lesson in the historical/mythical place that the Spanish conquistadors called El Dorado: a lost city of the Mayans made of gold and containing untold riches. No one ever found El Dorado and the truth is it can never be found, not because it is a myth, but because those who seek it are more interested in the search.”

So again and again, especially when making decisions about where to go next, the people around me came up with the most direct possible route from where I was today to New York.  It was almost as if we automatically optimise for efficiency.  

And I had to patiently and kindly remind them that if the point of this was simply to get to NYC from San Francisco then I probably would not have ended up in their company having this conversation.  If I could have (and mostly I think that means, if I had been driving a car and I was less of a scaredy-cat) then I’d have made it even more convoluted, I’d have doubled back on myself, I’d have stayed in a different place every single night, I might have ended up leaving the USA altogether and actually heading south for El Dorado.  

Even as it was, options other than the direct appear insane – why would you go from SF to Austin via Seattle and Milwaukee? I could not possibly know the answer to that when I was sitting in Half Moon Bay. But I’m awfully glad that that’s what I did!


Let’s say it once again.  The point of this trip was *not* to see whether you can get from San Francisco to New York (of course you can, in many boring ways) it was to see what happens when you set a goal and then allow for the journey to unfold over the period of a month, letting other people in on the decision making. Which leads me to Michael again: 

“There’s something important that … is often missing from many mythological accounts of those who explore and experiment on the frontier: we do not do it alone.”

Please. Read The Whole Thing.

I may go round in circles for a bit with this, pulling out ideas, referencing them back to the trip and then trying to put them in a broader context.  That’s how I’m learning. Hope you are too.



Originally posted on Please Look After This Englishman