I’m sure everyone who writes has a moment (or maybe many) when they write something which they think is original, and then look at it and think wait a bit, I’m sure I’ve written that before, or if I haven’t I’m sure someone else has. Then maybe you worry in case someone else sees what you’ve written and thinks you’ve copied it or plagiarized it. Then maybe you think it’s a idea you had from something you’ve actually seen or experienced, or maybe it was triggered by an image you’ve seen – so is what you’ve written just coincidentally the same? Last night I wrote something along the lines of if you don’t know what’s behind you, then you won’t see what’s in front of you – or something like that, meaning your experiences give insight into things that happen, so they should be remembered and valued – good or bad, to help you recognise and deal with what is going to happen. and have insight into those new events.
Of course it didn’t take long to find who else had said similar things but more elegantly, and several writers had expressed this idea, or something like it.
I came across this: If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. This is from Lewis Carroll and the actual words he wrote, from Alice in Wonderland are these:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
This gives a lovely idea of going for a stroll, through town or country, coast or moor and just aimlessly ambling and finding new and unexpected sights and having exciting adventures! However it could apply to different aspects of life, and I suppose I think of it in terms of acquiring knowledge, and of having different experiences because you never know when those things will be of relevance and use.
The opposite of that optimistic serendipitous road to travel, is this from Henry Kissinger: If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere. Now I guess in a literal sense, if I was setting off to go to Dinnington, since I have absolutely no idea where it is then obviously I would never get there. However if I found myself in Dinnington, wherever that is, then I might explore and I wouldn’t have any expectations of what I might find, so every where I went would get me somewhere, and I might discover all sorts of delights – or not! Maybe that isn’t a very good example!
Then there’s this: You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been. Maya Angelou wrote this, but I can’t at the moment find exactly where she wrote it. I think this implies knowing at a deeper level, to analyse and maybe come to terms with previous experiences, positive and maybe not so positive, and keep them alive to learn from the past and approach the future in a stronger way.
Terry Pratchett wrote in : It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong. This quote is more about identity, and understanding of our own identity and what has made us; I’m not sure I quite agree with the last part of the sentence about probably going wrong – if life is an adventure (and I’m taking the quote to mean about the direction of life rather than in a literal sense finding your way to a destination) then the unexpected and the disappointments and failures as well as the predictable, the satisfaction and the successes, are all of what makes life not boring.
With regards to me going to Dinnington, I would have to be triply careful to work out my destination, as there are three places with that name, Dinnington in Somerset, Dinnington in South Yorkshire and Dinnington, Tyne and Wear.