Line Up Your Horses

Imagine you are driving a cart pulled by a pair of powerful horses. This is an unusual cart, as the horses are not bound by a single constraint; rather, each can go in whatever direction he chooses. You are a kind driver and do not employ a whip because these are very smart horses. You need only say where you want to go, and these horses will take you there. You are on a very long journey, so you must bring in fresh horses from time to time. Sometimes this creates a problem. Sometimes one of the new horses does not want to go where you tell him to go. Sometimes he thinks the city is too far or the road there too treacherous, or the city itself does not even exist – it’s a myth fools like you drive horses to for no good reason. As I said, these horses are smart, sometimes too smart.

And so what happens when one horse wants to go one way and another horse wants to go the other? One of the three things. One of the horses “wins,” dragging the other horse – and you – where it is headed, either toward where you want to go or away from it. Or neither horse wins, it is a stalemate, and you remain stuck in the road between laboring but unmoving beasts.

Most people have horses going in different directions. Usually, the stronger horse is the one headed where you, the driver, wish to go because your greatest desire will always be stronger than your greatest fear. But even a weak horse slows your progress. If all horses are pointed in the same direction, the ride is smooth and swift.

If the going is rough or very slow, it is usually because you have competing horses. Every time you think, “We will never sell this book in a foreign market,” or, “Agents always reject me,” you are pulling against the horse of your truest desire. The roads, of course, don’t actually exist – the path the horses must follow is within your imagination alone. If you don’t show them the road, they will never see it.

I know it seems sometimes as if you must think of all the possible roads, that you must create contingency plans in case you somehow end up on the road to failure. Except no one ends up on any road. Every road is chosen. You have the right to only think about where you want to go. It is, in fact, the most responsible choice possible. To call thinking about failure responsible is like calling a sailor who drills holes in the bottom of his boat to calculate how long it will take him to sink thorough.

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