Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Efficiency is in rolling as well as walking

Sonny is well and truly into crawling now (we've been steeling ourselves for this, as blogged about in 'Preparing for Bandit Sonny'), except he does a lot rolling sideways too. It all adds up to a unique approach that looks wildly inefficient: Instead of plodding from Point A to Point B, the little fella will roll leftward sort of in Point B's direction, then crawl towards it, than roll rightward... you get the general idea.

The thing is, after some mental calculation and much bemused observation, we've realised that this uncoordinated cross-training routine gets Sonny places remarkably quickly. His knees-and-hands crawling isn't yet a very refined affair: Loads of energy is expended so that, if the distance to be traversed is more than half a metre or so, he needs to rest up and recharge along the way. On the other hand, this rolling business doesn't tire him at all: After the briefest of moments to angle his body, he just tips over and barrels along. He doesn't get him anywhere in a straight line, of course, since it's hard to control the trajectory in mid-roll, but he gains so much mileage, the required repositioning is worth it.

Right there, if you think about it, is a lesson for all of us on how the most effective way of reaching a given goal doesn't necessarily mean picking the most direct route. To take something as innocuous as gaining information from someone (something Mum and Pa did a lot of as journalists): Barging right up and saying, "Hi, we'd like to know x about p" is seldom the best way to go about it, though it saves on saliva. You have to put your mark at ease - perhaps offering some information yourself as a gesture of good faith - before phrasing things to avoid setting off landmines.

Of course, after a quick roll and before reorienting himself, Sonny often finds himself faced with something new and intriguing that he hadn't been aiming for to start with. This not infrequently captures his interest, so that his original goal is ignored. This, too, is par for the course in the adult world - and not necessarily a bad thing. 'Tunnel vision' is the phrase we use for when we become so focused on a particular objective, we fail to notice anything else around us. It is not unhealthy for us to be presented from time to time with possible deviations from the plan. If the original goal was as important as all that, we'd get round to it eventually, perhaps after a brief delay. But the potential new diversions could well enrich our journey. They might even equip us to better handle that goal, when we get to it.