The path taken

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” — Yogi Berra

I just spent a day working on an idea for a computer graphics technique. It took about four hours for me to begin to understand that I was on a fools errand — that the thing I was trying simply wouldn’t work.

But then I spent another four hours continuing to play with it. As I did this, I felt kind of like an idiot, and I started asking myself “Why am I still doing this? I already know this isn’t going to work. And it’s not like I don’t have other things to do!”

But then an odd thing happened. The first idea changed to a second idea, and then a third idea. By the time I was done, I had come up with something really interesting. It wasn’t the same as the thing I had started out to find, yet I would never have found this new thing if I hadn’t taken that particular path.

Looking back now on the experience, I realize that somewhere in the back of my mind, I had sensed there was something to be found there, and that this intuition had overridden my “better judgement”. I just didn’t know what it was that I would find — until I found it.

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