The MacGuffin 11.23.2011
If you have been reading this site or listened to the Enough podcast for long enough, you know I’m always trying crazy experiments. Like going a week without things I use or writing a book on my iPad. Ask me on almost any day and I have some sort of insane idea I’m trying out. My latest seems to have attracted more attention than I ever thought it would.
On a recent episode of the podcast, I discussed a plan for yet another crazy experiment. – To reduce my Mac to the out of the box install and limit myself to only five third party apps and utilities (feel free to listen). The reason? Well, it is the same as any other crazy experiment I do: It’s an attempt to find what is “Enough” for me. That tricky and ever shifting balance between want and need. I want to explore these things for myself in the hopes it will inspire others to do the same.
In everything I do and try to communicate here, what matters is that I am not only asking the question, “What is enough?” but I am actively seeking answers.
All. The. Time.
The thing about that answer is that the only person that can answer it correctly is the person who is living it. In other words, I can’t tell you what is enough for you. You have to ask and answer what is enough for you. I can only tell you what is enough for me. I can only explain how I went about discovering that answer for myself in the hopes it will give you a potential path, of which there may be many, to the answer that is right for you.
So, why five apps? Why not ten? Twenty? Well, let me tell you a little secret…
It’s a MacGuffin. Which, according to the canonical authoritative source of all truth and knowledge, Wikipedia, is:
A MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin) is “a plot element that catches the viewers’ attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction”. The defining aspect of a MacGuffin is that the major players in the story are (at least initially) willing to do and sacrifice almost anything to obtain it, regardless of what the MacGuffin actually is. In fact, the specific nature of the MacGuffin may be ambiguous, undefined, generic, left open to interpretation or otherwise completely unimportant to the plot. Common examples are money, victory, glory, survival, a source of power, a potential threat, or it may simply be something entirely unexplained.
OK. Understood? Great. But I want to highlight one specific part again as it relates to my point:
In fact, the specific nature of the MacGuffin may be ambiguous, undefined, generic, left open to interpretation or otherwise completely unimportant to the plot.
In the case of almost every experiment I do, there is a MacGuffin that fits this description. In the case of “A week without…” the MacGuffin is the week itself. The important part is that I’m actively trying to evaluate not only my need and use of a thing but also its value to me and where it fits in my life. In the case of writing a book on my iPad, the MacGuffin was the iPad. I mean, I could have chosen any tool to replace the way I commonly would write a book – my iPhone, pen and paper, etc. The reason was simply the inherent challenges that may come from doing so and to evaluate if the tool was better for me than the one I would normally use.
In the particular case of my “Five apps” experiment, it is the number is that MacGuffin. The number is unimportant. I could have chosen any number of apps. It does not matter. What does matter is that I am asking a question about what enough is for me when it comes to the things I have chosen to install on my Mac and am seeking an answer.
The theme here is that everyone has a balance that works for them. I’m actively seeking mine. If I wish to inspire anything at all in doing this, it is that others actively seek what is the proper balance for them. You should ask and answer what is enough for you. I’m only here to help. But, please, do not get hung up on the MacGuffin or you may very well miss the point and be left with more questions than answers.