I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. – Eric Morecambe
One of the problems with reading Terry Pratchett is that certain phrases roll around in your mind, mocking you with their unblinking gaze.
Take, for example, that you have to learn to believe the little lies – the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, wishing wells, and others that we do not speak of in front of children – so that you can believe the big ones: truth, justice, mercy.
“Stop!” you say, of course truth and justice and mercy exist. But they don’t. Grind up the universe, say Pratchett’s characters, sieve all that is in existence and you will not find a molecule of mercy, a grain of truth, a drop of justice. These are entirely human concepts that exist entirely in our heads and we choose to believe them.
So, if you need to do something is there a right way to do it and a wrong way? For example, if you want to achieve your goal should you go straight for it in the most direct way possible, even if there is a good chance you’ll stumble? Should you take the path that has the least risk? Or should you go big, swing for the fences and hope to hit a home run.
Take working life, for example, A direct approach might be to go for what you always wanted to be – a cellist, an actor – even though there is a chance that you might not make the cut. Or you could take a low risk route – apprentice to a trade, become a professional. Or you could strike our on your own, start a company, live the startup life and get rich quickly. Or fail fast and try something else.
And then of course you could just wander about and fall into something – maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t – but quite a few people end up decades later wondering how they got there and whether it could have worked out differently.
The point is that there is no “right” way. If you don’t mind the stress of the ups and downs you can make certain decisions. If you can live with skating on the edge of what is legal and what isn’t – you might find an edge. It’s a personality thing – I’m conservative, perhaps too much. But I can live with that.
In the end if there is no truth, there is only the truth according to you.