Clarity, at speed

Clarity is different for a creator and a consumer.

If you write a series of clear instructions to do a job, but those instructions are difficult to consume (wrong language, no background in the subject, etc.), the instructions are still clear—yet the job doesn't get done. Instructions can be easy to consume, but wrong (I'm thinking of a specific software update that got ahead of its user guide, but you're welcome to insert your own).

What the hell is clarity anyway?

I can tell you what speed is: it's a change in position in an interval of time. Or a change in one thing divided by a change in another thing.

I had an idea when I started typing here. Ironically, the idea has escaped me. Instead there are several murky proto-ideas swimming just beneath the surface of my thoughts. When I reach, they aren't there; when I lean in close to look, I can't resolve them. Lack of clarity, combined with lack of speed. Hi ho. Let's just call it a day.

But there's an idea there waiting to surface and I'm going to keep typing these dammed words until it does. (I meant to type 'damned' but 'dammed' is too good to erase. Let it be.)

Clarity without speed is, to me, a walk in the mountains. Round a bend in the trail and pause, seeing what there is to see. Pause longer, and you can see what isn't there to see as well. I loved the desert mountains for this—whichever desert, it doesn't matter, but I'm picturing the Guadalupe Mountains. There were angles and lines and planes and, depending on the wind, crisply or dully drawn horizons. There were also empty open spaces that, like a vacuum abhorred, filled with thoughts—thoughts that might pour in like a bucket of water, thoughts that would settle out over time into sediment and clear liquid.

Lack of clarity with speed is running until the vision starts to tunnel. Driving the same highway but never seeing the scenes to either side. Jamming content into your earholes and eyeholes nonstop but not being able to resolve any of it into information, knowledge, wisdom.

Clarity at speed is a leprechaun riding a unicorn.

But sometimes you've got a big bag of Things To Do, and a clock that reads Not Enough Time. Grab a saddle.

Make a map, however wrong. Label it. Call everything by its right name. Or the wrong name until you know more. Just agree on the same name because you'll need a clear idea of the landmarks.

Less is not more. Less is less. More is more. Sometimes more is less. More is heavy. Less is light. Taking a moment before setting out to thoughtfully throw out the unneeded—like shaking down your backpack before leaving basecamp—saves effort over the rest of the journey. Unnecessarily wasted effort eats focus.

Take notes, leave notes. Sometimes the notes are helpful, sometimes not. It's not the notes themselves but the notetaking mind that is important. You can see nothing at any speed, if you don't know how to look. Observation is a muscle.


Clarity is the taste needed to know how simply or how completely to define a task to get the job done without inciting murderous resentment from the person who has to use the definition to do the task.

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