A literalist and a factualist

More from The Sportswriter:

When you are fully in your emotions, when they are simple and appealing enough to be in, and the distance is closed between what you feel and what you might also feel, then your instincts can be trusted.

It is the difference between a man who quits his job to become a fishing guide on Lake Big Trout, and who one day as he is paddling his canoe into the dock at dusk, stops paddling to admire the sunset and realizes how much he wants to be a fishing guide on Lake Big Trout; and another man who has made the same decision, stopped paddling at the same time, felt how glad he was, but also thought he could probably be a guide on Windigo Lake if he decided to, and might also get a better deal on canoes.

Another way of describing this is that it’s the difference between being a literalist and a factualist. A literalist is a man who will enjoy an afternoon watching people while stranded in an airport in Chicago, while a factualist can’t stop wondering why his plane was late out of Salt Lake, and guaging whether they’ll still serve dinner or just a snack.

What a wonderful, evocative and profound passage. Like many people I aspire to be someone like Ford’s literalist, and congratulate myself when I find I’m able to achieve that kind of state of mind, but frequently find it hard to escape the clutches of factualism.

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