Just start at the plug

mouse worm

We all have a past, it is an inevitable part of living. If we are really lucky, that past is full of adventures, experiences and character development. Those that are the most mind-expanding are the most formative and we carry with us the longest.

I have been fortunate that my past is littered with a patchwork of lessons, jobs and people that have allowed me to influence my thinking along new paths. Anyone outside of your sphere of experience and reference is mind-expanding, this counts for both good and bad.

We all enjoy the good lessons but these are not necessarily the best, most valuable or that provide the greatest personal growth. Often the bad lessons have the most profound effect because, instead of the warm and fuzzy guidance from the good lessons, the bad ones show a line in the sand and help us define our boundaries, giving us a clear indication of what we want, what we don’t want and what we find acceptable.

One of my favourite lessons, one that has stuck with me for decades and that I use regularly, is not a warm and fuzzy lesson, it’s not even a bad lesson. Instead, it was a simple, clear piece of advice that can’t be mistaken for an exotic parable. Wrapped up in purely practical wisdom, it was taught to me by an electrician when I was still a teenager.

“Always start at the plug.”

Clarity, simplicity, and utterly unambiguous. It doesn’t get better than that.

How though, if you aren’t an electrician, how does this help? What assistance could this piece of information be, except for “if it doesn’t turn on, make sure it is plugged in”? Well, there’s a really simple lesson in there if you want to find it.

If you’re having a problem, of any kind, look for the simplest solution and avoid complicating it with over-thinking. When faced with adversity, it can be tempting to blow it out of proportion, to create the proverbial mountain out of a molehill. What we really need to do is step back and look at the situation critically, then formulate the simplest plan for the best solution.

This is where the plug comes in. It the device plugged in at all, if it is plugged in, is it turned on. If it is plugged in and turned on, is there a loose wire in the plug. Simple steps performed in sequence to answer simple questions which all having a bearing on the problem at hand.

While these cannot solve a problem, if none of them is the problem, walking through each and eliminating them removes the doubt that they might be part of the problem. If you know the simple things are not the source of the issue you have freed your mind to focus on the more important possibilities and you have no doubt in the process nagging at you, disrupting that focus.

Not every lesson needs to be some cosmic particle slamming against your skull in a moment of transcendental enlightenment. This is a perfect example and it is a life lesson you can carry for the duration of your existence in every sphere. It makes it a good one.

On a final note, sometimes you don’t need something to be anything but amusing. Go check out this worm, move your mouse around, wiggle it slowly, wiggle it fast, really go for the wiggle … and see what happens. It is mindless, it is pointless and it’s annoyingl amusing. Enjoy.

Author: Morné Condon

Automotive journalist in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, following new models, old cars, car clubs and motorsport. My interests are not restricted to the automotive environment, although this is where I am mostly to be found.