Explanationism

Don't spend your day in explanation.

“We cannot spend the day in explanation.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have a confession to make. I am a recovering serial perfectionist. I also dabble frequently in its close cousin, explanationism. Yes, that is actually a word!

Have you ever found yourself trying to explain what is merely coincidence? Have you ever tried assigning meaning to something that occurs naturally?

We all do it, and I suppose it is good that we do. How else would we uncover nature's mysteries? How else would we make progress in science, philosophy, mathematics and other great disciplines? That is explanationism in a nutshell.

Explanationism also has a dark side. One that inoculates you against action. Just as perfectionism can paralyze you with successive iterations amounting to no more than asymptotic progress, so too can explaining things to your satisfaction never truly meet the target.

Perhaps this tendency toward excess explanation is common in those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, or perhaps it is simply part of the human condition.

But there I go again, spiraling into explanation. I, for one, have had enough.

This year I plan to limit both perfect plans and grand explanations. I plan to live life to its fullest and let the chips of explanation fall where they may.

I will save explanation for retrospectives.

I will instead find explanation as a byproduct of action. If a good explanation fails to materialize, I will not be overly concerned.

I will become a person of action who builds in public and accepts the associated risks. I will learn by doing.

I will accept and revel in empirical results. I will not obsess over what it all means.

How about you?