MAD magazine may not be an obvious place to seek philosophical inspiration, but Alfred E. Neuman ( better known for “What me, worry?”) once had an astute observation in print that caught my eye. He declared that:
“Most people don’t know what they want, but are they pretty sure they don’t have it.”
Admit it – its true more often than not, isn’t it ? The importance of clarity is, well…clear ! If you are not sure about what it is that you stand for, represent, or even want, it can make for quite an addled existence. Now I will be the first to admit that it is not always clear *what* we are doing, leave alone the more existential aspects like “why” or the more practical issues of *how*. That being said, I know that every time I have had clarity of purpose, it has always had a more positive bearing – if not on the ultimate outcome, at least on the journey in that general direction.
Some of you may have read my earlier musings on the dreaded “to-do list” and how we often find ourselves choked with too many things to get done, and almost always not enough time to do them. One great way to get things done is not just to have better organization skills or nifty tools to manage our activities: it is simply to have clarity in our thought. Having a clear sense of who we are, what we stand for and what we hope to accomplish in our limited time here will help us to focus our time, energy and attention on things that really matter.
An easy way to gain clarity in any situation is to ask yourself a simple question: what is the worst that can happen ? Very often, coming face to face directly with the most dire possible outcome is a great way to see any situation in its clearest light, and to realize how important -or not- the dilemma/situation/question we are facing is, and whether it merits any of the hestitation/fear/commitment that we may be worried about.
Clarity is not clairvoyance. It is certainly no magic mantra that will make things easier and tell us exactly how to take the next step. Come to think of it, most of life is a sequence of steps taken one at a time – some deliberate, others reactive. We may not always know where we are going or what to do next, but it will always help to know why.