Taking action


Charles Pépin makes a brilliant essay on How to Take Action. His advice can be summed up as follows: “Prepare to never be ready.” Certainties hinder action, disorient us if the course is not compliant. To decide is “to go there to see […] go there because we don’t know enough […] otherwise, we will never know.”

Charles speaks from his heart. But the brain says the same thing! What is the very nature of the decision, if not shifting from reality? When we passively follow the course of (our) reality, few surprises await us. Our habits have been forged by past reality. Actions are reflexive and not thoughtful. The qualifier ‘decision’ only applies if we go off the rails. We decide to maneuver a switch. The Self escapes from its automated destiny. It enters the unknown.


Preparation only makes sense as such a switch approaches. A habit is followed, not alerted. The decision, on the other hand, ejects the habit. A new captain came on board. Pirate captain? His intention is clear: to impose his will on reality. But will reality let itself be done? When we shout “On boarding!”, will we come across a real disarmed or will it fire a broadside that will destroy our hopes?

Impossible to be ready. We are in the unknown. The decision to act throws us into lag and unpreparedness. But Charles, by getting rid of certainties, leaves us unresolved, which is a shame before acting. It is absolutely necessary to separate two futures, that of our predictions and that of our identity.

To go there is…

The prediction is fragile, that’s for sure. But the future of our identity is solid, indissoluble from the present. We call it ‘motivation’, or ‘personal insurance’. It is the certainty that our purpose is valid, in continuity with our present Self. Identity is one, extends from the past to a hoped-for future by straddling the present. The most active identities hardly stop there. They are already living their future. If the present is a brake, it must be shifted as soon as possible. So decide, act. Continually.

No irresolution. Because to go there is to meet oneself ahead.


1 thought on “Taking action”

  1. I have thought about this in the warm, bright light of reality, rather than the cool, dim shadow of abstraction. My short take is this: circumstances shift as contingencies surface, or as your writer suggests, one can never be prepared for anything. Ergo, better to have more than one way out of anything—even if the least acceptable emerges as the only one possible. This is not a new strategy or bracing epiphany. I learned it, half a century ago.


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