Taking inspiration where you find it

I’m re-reading a book I’ve read a few times before… I’ll get to the title and subject in a bit.  The author, over the course of a few years, discovered and wrote his version of an Eightfold Path specifically about the subject of the book.  I think they have the potential to make good rules for life in general, and each time I read it, I’m reminded of the ways I’ve gone wrong over the years. 

Here’s the Path, first:

1. Obvious things may be worth noticing.
2. Remember the basics: the basics are what you remember.
3. Put your head where you can use it later.
4. Doing nothing is better than doing something really stupid.
5, Admit you don’t know squat as often as possible.
6. Everything connects to everything else.
7. You can often see only what you think you’ll see.
8. Just play each moment.  Let go of outcome.
9! Seriously.  About this last part.  Just get each moment right.  Let go.

I think you’ll agree that there may be some value here.  How much, of course, is up to you – each person’s mileage varies.

So where did this bit of inspiration come from?  The clue is in #8.  And no, “play” doesn’t refer to comedy here… although I suspect my improv friends might really find a use for the 9 steps on the Path…

…it refers to a game show.  The one I’ve taken the online audition test for each year since it became available, without any notable success.

This is the Eightfold Path to Enlightened Jeopardy!, and it’s written by a 5-time Jeopardy! champion who later scored a total of $1 in a two-day Tournament of Champions final, and thus is well-positioned to understand the use of (and failure to use) his Eightfold Path in game play.

It’s from Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy! by Bob Harris, who notes that if you have a problem with his Eightfold Path having 9 items, you really should re-read #9.

All kidding aside, if I hadn’t told you the source, would you have considered the value of the 9 steps in your life?  Or did the perceived value change when I told you the source?

There are a couple of steps there that I really wish I could wrap my mind around.  Number 6 is something I tend to notice more after reading the book – Harris refers to the use of mnemonics to save information you might use in a Jeopardy! game… but I think it’s bigger.  You’d be amazed how everything connects if you let it.  I tend to fight that idea, though, and miss out on chances in life because of it.

But it’s number 8 that defines me.  I have never been able to let go of outcome.  I don’t take those kind of chances – and, honestly, that will probably hurt me if I ever get on Jeopardy!, as much as it’s held me back in other ways.

And if could take back any, or all, of the times I’ve left my head somewhere I couldn’t find it…

Anyway, this is one of those posts that’s more a reminder for me than anything else.  If you get value out of it, so much the better.


Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, slightly less occasional improv player/ref/tech, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), generally nice person (if you ask me).

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