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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Last Mile

The term "The Last Mile" came from the push to get phone lines to every person in the United States. The real problem, and the most expensive part of the process, was getting the line the last mile down the road to the houses of people.

It was easy to start the process. The first few miles were close to the phone company and a natural extension of what was already happening. But the farther from the phone company, the more spread out the people became.

Still, getting to the towns wasn't terribly difficult. There were highways that led to most of those. What was the real issue was that last mile from the towns to each person's home.

I struggle with the last mile in almost every project I do. I want to hurry up and start things, but I don't want to finish them. The minute details. The endless polishing. The last, lonely, long mile of it.

But the last mile is the difference between a professional and an amateur.

It's easy enough for anyone to start something, but to go through all the thankless effort of finishing well is the mark of a true professional.

My first published book wasn't professional. People read it because, I think, the content outshone the flaws.

But instead of rushing out my next book. I'm forcing myself to walk the last mile. To re-read what I wrote and others have read.

I really don't want to do this. That's why I must.

How do you deal with the last mile in your work?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wrestling Entropy

It’s vast.

Vast and constantly swirling.

But it doesn’t swirl like the eddies of a river seeking chaotic balance. It doesn’t swirl like clouds forming a funnel of violence. It doesn’t swirl  like flames erupting from a pitch-filled knot on a log tossed into a fire.

No the swirling is fully random.

That may not seem a differentiation, but it is.

Everything we see that we think is chaotic isn’t really. It’s order that we can’t fully perceive. The swirls of sunflower seeds are arranged according to Fibonacci’s sequence. So too the shell of the nautilus. The clouds obey patterns of wind. Fire is defined by thermodynamics.

The pseudo-chaos we see is not chaos but our inability to understand. The flowing river is in perfect order that we could see if we knew ever molecule of water, every fish, every plant, every gust of wind, every stone and every footfall of a deer slaking its thirst at dusk. It all goes where it ought to in precisely predefined patterns.

This unending, swirling, chaos-incarnate is wholly different. Not in degree, but in kind. There is no analogy. Laws do not define it. Understanding cannot contain it. Vision cannot circumscribe it.

You stand at the edge as if on a cliff before the raging sea. It writhes, alive and seeking. You can sense its cold purpose yet no words exist to describe it. As color to one born blind.

You fear it, as you should, but slowly something dawns on you. The realization creeps up your spine and lodges in the base of your skull. It is felt, but not yet known. Your fearing, lizard-brain, fight-or-flight knot-in-the-pit-of-your-feet locks you in place.

Your blood pressure rises. Sweat embraces you. Breath escapes you. The chaos is growing, coming, seeking to destroy you.

Panic cries out, begs for your obedience.

But with Alexander’s blade your gut-thought cleaves the Gordian coil.

Entropy fears you.

You fear it. As well you should. It desires that all should be like it. Everything should fail, crumble, topple and rust into oblivion. It devours worlds, stars, galaxies and hearts.
But it fears you too. As well it should.

You stand before it defiant. Its all-consuming chaos is not death to you, but life. It is from whence all things come. Not willingly, but eventually.

You wrestle with Entropy.

Each match is a titanic struggle laying low one or the other opponents. You know not if you will succeed or fail, yet you stride forth into battle. Into chaos. Into death-life you wade knowing that you can drag out of its vast, swirling depths some order.

But not the order that can be understood, contained and explained. No, the order you draw forth is other. Like Entropy is other.

Your order is something new, something wondrous. It is Creation.
What was not now is. Because you stand, fight and overcome Entropy.
Do not diminish the heroic act with petty labels.


Those are but orderly, understandable, circumscribable labels for those who stride forth, like you, and wrestle Entropy into submission in order to bring a Creation forth into the world.

You should fear Entropy, but so should Entropy fear you.

You are mighty. You Create.