12 April 2011

I Wouldn't Start From Here

Apparently there's an old Irish joke (immortalized in The Quiet Man) where a tourist is lost and asks a local how to get somewhere. The local replies, "Well, I wouldn't start from here."

This comment was floated by an Englishman during one of my conference calls this morning, and our Irish sysadmin thought it was hilarious. I didn't get the joke, and neither did the Belgians, the Indians, or the other Americans. I'm firmly of the persuasion that most of us outside the UK (and perhaps Australia & NZ) have an under-developed sense of irony, so I decided to investigate.

I'm still not sure I completely get all the humour, but I'm struck by the depth of the notion and the breadth of its application to real life. In problem determination it could serve as a useful reminder to alter your vantage point. Similarly, in architecture it might mean that transformation from A into Z isn't possible without first evolving A into B, B into C and so forth.

Most poignant perhaps is a simple the lesson in patience, something akin to "the teacher will appear when the student is ready". You can't arrive at the place where you ultimately want to be without first arriving at a few more starting places.