Wednesday, November 21, 2007

sea swells and storms

Times change with little control by us. Split milk, toothpaste out of the tube, water under the bridge or over the dam. The at-once beautiful and frightening aspect of time is that it only moves from left to right. Once an event occurs or words are shared, it becomes a part of history that cannot be undone or erased. At best, one tries to say, “I didn’t expect that,” or “I didn’t want that to happen.” A careful examination of the record, not always possible but many times is (at least in important part), makes it all too clear that the event was inevitable, even invited. Protestations to the contrary rise (or lower) to the level of being humorous. What is sorely lacking is honesty: “Yes, that is what I expected, it is what I invited, and, when it came, I was a little taken back, but I am back on track on now. Yes, that is what I want.”

Is that so hard?

A remarkable thing about humans is our ability to adapt to new circumstances. We have a strong need to socialize (remember the Russia experiment (or was it Hitler’s gang?) to raise kids without social interaction – they all died young), so our difference is not just opposable thumbs. But today’s society gives us an incredible array of social outlets. My situation is a good example on a few fronts: I work at home and my teenagers are home-schooled. Take away the internet, add a few cows and chickens, and we could be reading at night by oil lamp in the 1840s wilds of somewhere west of the Mississippi and east of Sacramento. I leave the house almost not at all, aside from two or three business trips a months. I have little need or desire for new outlets. In fact, and I believe I wrote this before, unlike other periods in my life, this one has no feeling of an end. If my job changes to having to show up someplace everyday, I will be truly disappointed. I will adapt, but only because I can and, apparently, must.

So with new circumstances comes adaptation. Intellectual and emotional adaptation is very similar to me to a card game, perhaps 7-card Stud. As time goes on, the majority of the cards of the other players’ (not “opponents,” just other players) become known. There are no good or bad cards – they are just hardened paper with symbols. It is unfair of me, for example, to place my forearm over my up-turned cards. Mine are to be as visible as yours. With four cards out of six visible towards the end game, there is little need to bullshit one another. Inside straights are hard to hit. In fact, this is where the analogy falters, because it is not gambling with stakes to be won or lost – it is just information to be shared. Yes, personal information that belongs to one person as much as their own poker hand does, but when that personal information if shared would help the other to adapt, then play fair: keep your forearm off the table.

I’m one of those people that identify with an un-tethered bobber cast into the ocean. I have ridden swells to great heights, and have been consumed by countless waves. Somehow or another, I never sink completely (been close!). Calm waters always find me. I also know that I am the bobber and am not the water beneath. Whether it be God’s hands or another person (God-driven or not), it is not me in charge.

This perspective drives me to want information. If I cannot be control – and I never can be nor do I want to be (that’s a young adult’s fantasy) – then allow me the information to know about tomorrow’s sea conditions. That is all I ask. I adapt. I survive both the swell and the storm. Just share with me what you learned about the coming conditions.

Is that so hard?

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