Don't Get Flummoxed at the Fork


[Editor's note: This is the fifth in the Denizens of the Creative Hinterlands series. For more, see the Perfection Fairy.]

Contrary to the popular romantic fantasy of a blissful artist joyfully churning out masterpieces, creating is no stroll in the park. Rather, each design or artistic creation is a journey through the Creative Hinterlands, a bleak scabland stretching out before you with distant rolling hills and challenging mountains. While it’s not hard to find a path in this desolate landscape, every direction you travel leads you to forks in the road—and it is here that we meet our next denizen of the Hinterlands: The Decision Fork.

The Decision Fork juggling

Decision Forks—found in 2-, 3- and 4-tine varieties—are ubiquitous in the Hinterlands, punctuating the twists and turns you will make on your journey. This ominous creature hovers in mid-air, for fear of grounding itself and having to live with a decision. Instead, it anxiously keeps its options open as long as possible by performing a juggling act of wavering uncertainty.

Whenever you encounter a Decision Fork, it will urge you to weigh the possibilities and carefully consider the options. The Decision Fork assigns enormous significance to each turn in your path, for each turn, it warns you, could mean redemption or ruin. But where the Ponderous Complexicator is cerebral and truly tries to think its way through a decision, the Decision Fork is ultimately just fearful of making any wrong choice.

However, to make any committed decision you need your "feet on the ground." The Decision Fork can be defeated (or at least deflected) by saying, "There are no mistakes; there is only learning." Say it out loud if necessary! This is one reason art is so daunting to many folks: you are in charge, you make the decisions, and you suffer the consequences (or, hopefully, reap the rewards).

The Decision Fork in a panic

But remember that if you survive a bad decision, you can almost always go back and try another path. If you make enough runs at it, eventually you will find a way through. When you achieve the result you’re looking for, they’ll say it looked effortless… only you will know better.

Whatever you do, don't gaze down the path ahead too far. More decision forks await you there and just the sight of them can be daunting. I find that defeating the decision fork in front of me now is enough pressure. Choose your path and stick a fork in it!

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