On Vision and Delusion

Not many people can see the world as it might be, rather than as it is. It takes a creative and irreverent mind for that.

But not all visions are equal; it’s hard to know if you’re the next genius envisioning the personal computer revolution, or deluding yourself that cheese furniture will be the next step forward in home decoration. Inside your head, vision and delusion look just the same.


Other people aren’t a lot of help either. On the whole, older people tend to see the world as it is, rather than that which has room for improvement. To test this, ask any Baby Boomer who the best musician is/was, and they will invariably reply The Beatles (and then, if you are not fast in exiting the scene, attempt to play you their music). I don’t deny that The Beatles has merit, but I think this illustrates the fact that a great many perceptions are formed in our late teens and 20’s and change little thereafter.

Younger people see many more possibilities. But lacking the first-hand experience of getting their hands dirty, many thoughts have no bearing on how reality actually works. This is both a strength and a weakness.

This is largely the same for cooking, technology, or profession X you are engaged in. Innovation is fine for others, but you *know* what you’re doing. How could it possibly change?


So, it’s a pickle. It’s hard to predict the future until it arrives, as any day trader may attest, and the mental image you find so convincing is rarely so convincing outside your own head, or even remotely accurate.

How do you know if you’re going in the right direction?
How do you know if others share your vision?
How do you know if you’re a genius or tilting at windmills?


To Know The Difference…

1. Take Personal Action

Make your own gamble. That’s really all you can do. If you’re right, you’ll win big.

Think computers will be the next thing? Go into that industry. Many companies will die, you might not win. But you will be living your life according to your ideas, and you might win big.


2. Talk About Your Vision

If people agree with you and share your vision, you will attract friends and fellow believers. A tribe. A small tribe in the beginning, but that will gather force and eventually you will be proven right and be in a large tribe.

If you don’t attract similarly minded individuals, either:

(a) your oratory for sharing your idea wasn’t good, or
(b) your vision was actually a delusion.


I wish I had better answers. Let me know if you come across one; I’d love to hear it.

I don’t think there’s a definitive way to know which way existence will flow tomorrow, or a year from now. The social landscape changes drastically in that time, and the geography shifts a bit as well. But if you don’t talk about or act on your vision I can guarantee you this: You will always be playing catch up to those who do.


Confine yourself to observing and you always miss the point of your own life. The object can be stated this way: Live the best life you can. Life is a game whose rules you learn if you leap into it and play it to the hilt. Otherwise, you are caught off balance, continually surprised by the shifting play. Non-players often whine and complain that luck always passes them by. They refuse to see that they can create some of their own luck.

~ Darwi Odrade, Bene Gesserit Mother Superior, Chapterhouse: Dune

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