Working forwards tended to result in more satisfying outcomes but it was not always possible. Aim low, and the chances of disappointment will also be lower. This may, or may not be true, but what we do know is that Juan had only modest expectations.
From the outset this project was a half-arsed, half-formed, after-thought. Juan himself certainly would not even call it, or consider it, anything so grand as a ‘project”. It was just a thought, a semi-idea that came to him one Tuesday afternoon, but it was enough for him turn it over and spend an hour or so trying to see if it might work. He was unsurprised, and barely disappointed, to discover it would be doomed.
‘Surely you have to succeed, if you give everything you have.’ Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop
An achingly sad line, and Juan is busy proving the exact opposite right here. Failure in one field, however, does not mean failure in all. Barely thinking about what he had started, and certainly with no follow-up initially, it was some time before he even noticed what was happening.
When he looked, he found it had grown. This encouraged him to give it an hour or two smoothing out some obvious problems. It continued to grow and grow outside of his control. Juan had given almost nothing and become a sensational success.
What lessons for life do Juan, his creation, and his story give us? Try everything you think of? Don’t give it your all? Throw enough pebbles and you’ll hit a duck, one day? Fortune favours the lazy?
His next project had gargantuan expectations, and naturally failed in all respects, apart from a mammoth return in schadenfreude.
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