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Thursday, June 14, 2012

To Change, Not To Correct

This morning during our commute together, I listened in on the one-sided cellphone conversation between the Wizard and his 92-year-old father, on the East Coast, struggling with Microsoft Word to do some complicated formatting of his latest self-published novel. (I should be writing novels at 92, but hopefully with better, easier technology.)

Dad wanted to "correct" the document, which has clearly gotten out of control.  There really should be a senior citizen or beginner version of Word. (I would like that.) But he's using it to do things that would be better accomplished with a layout program.  (MSWord can do these things, but at a great price to one's sanity.)

The filial tech support guru advised: "Change all the words to text, then copy and paste them into a clean document that you know works, and then you can change the font and whatever."  It appears that some style was inadvertently set, and along with Word's other random, inexplicable, and hidden and undocumented features and mandatory defaults, it has completely screwed up the writing/editing/production task.

"But why is this program doing this," Dad asked. The Wizard said, sometimes it's better not to try to figure out why, and just fix the problem. Just change it. Start fresh. No correction.

" 'Change', not 'correct"," the Wizard told the nonagenarian.  From a Taoist perspective, Dad has pretty much achieved immortality in the longevity sense. But an old Taoist would certainly know the difference between changing and correcting, fixing and controlling.

This seemed profound to me, especially coming out of the mouth of the more or less Confucian Wizard.  How often we long to correct things...other people, society, ourselves, when all that is required is to change and let go of the problem, to be open to change, not try to control.  Which flexibility MSWord is not designed to facilitate. (Someone once told me that to use MSWord efficiently, you have to "learn to think like Microsoft.")  Although anyone knows that when computers or software do things, they usually do it because you did something. But it can always be fixed...and provided you have backups, nothing is lost.

When we focus on "correction" we waste a lot of time.  Sometimes just changing course is all that is required.  Let go of the problem and move on.

That's what I'm working on. (Never mind that I just popped back in here to correct a typo!)

5 comments:

sybil law said...

Love this post - so true.

baroness radon said...

Thanks! Truth is not always correct...

Tao1776 said...

Wisdom says lie on your back and let the riptide carry you out beyond the pull of the current - Fear and resistance are what kills the swimmer. The water is only doing what water does..

Brandon said...

Ah, isn't it swim perpendicular to the current, along the shore, for a rip tide? I don't think you want to let it take you out...

Anyhow, good post. If only we could control our "copy editor attacks" in this game of life, we might get somewhere with things. The thing you said about letting go of the problem and simply changing, that's pretty deep. If we focus on the problem and fixing it, all we can see is the problem, and we perpetuate it. So let it go. Pretty wise

baroness radon said...

Word processing and swimming are two different skills and environments! It's all metaphor, but sometimes we have to even let go of the metaphors.


Lately I have been trying to direct my copy editor attacks only at myself.