Thursday, October 31, 2013


Something is annoyingly under the surface of my life.

There seems to be a bifurcation developing, creating two different parts of my life.  In one I am relatively happy, making decisions, planning, moving forward on things.  In the other I am plodding along, seemingly trapped in old paradigms and old ways, becoming increasingly unhappy.

Where is this bifurcation coming from?  It seems deeply connected to my ongoing endeavors in parts of my life which I can specifically control. 

Example:  My participation in Highland Athletics has been one of the great things to happen in the last 5 years of my life - not only because of the fact that I am in better shape, but that it is something that I have improved in and am continuing to improve in.  And all of this - participation, strength, improvement - lies completely within my control.

A lovely side effect of activities such as this is that I have connected with others that are interested in the same effort and improvement.  Everyone in Highland Athletics is seeking to do a little better, improve their score a little bit.  You cannot imagine what it is like to be around such a group.

And again, all of this is under my control.

I compare this with other areas of my life, such as my current career, where so much is not under my control and so much is more just getting through the day rather than really seeking to improve and get better.  There is no energy, no excitement, merely the continuing sense of a duty that needs to be accomplished.

(Why is it this desire for improvement is not everywhere?  Worthy of another blog post, I suspect).

Where do this two trails end up?  I am not really sure.  I suspect that two such very different experiences cannot continue to exist within the same frame of reference for a long period of time without one taking the other over.  I even suspect I know which one - because energy and drive and direction will always overpower the sense vague sense of merely needing to carry on.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I was speaking on the phone with Snowflake last night and we were discussing - okay, perhaps grumbling - about the various loads of what we have going on in our lives, how our work feels overwhelming and not productive and everything else in our lives seems to be coming down the pike all at once.  "It is like we're on a treadmill and we can't get off" she noted.

We laughed, both acknowledging the truth of her statement.  At the same time, there was a certain sad truth to situation.

Which got me to thinking:  if it is a treadmill, can't we get off?

The thing about a treadmill is that it is not something we are chained to, as if we were propelling an slave galley.  We put ourselves on there.  We continue to plod along mile after mile, maybe elevating the track or creating greater speed.  Ultimately, of course, we go nowhere - but we are the ones who continue to keep ourselves on it.

Can one even change treadmills?  This is a question fraught with even larger implications.  Changing a life is not nearly as clean as changing a treadmill of course:  there are a great many more implications than simply powering down and moving over.  But implications are not the same as impossibilities.

To start, as I think about it, is to simply check if one is on a treadmill.  Is my life essentially standing still?  Have I stopped moving forward in important aspects of my life, and am now simply creating ruts?  Have I become so enmeshed by everything that I have lost the ability to independently choose and act if I needed to make a change?

If that is the case - and it seems like my own - then there are really only two choices.  One is to continue to pound away the miles, going nowhere.

The second is to power down, hop off, and walk through the door into the open sunshine.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Highland Games...  I found out that I could throw.

Not necessarily any better on the whole, you understand.  Overall my scores were my scores.  But what I found was that in certain events I had something that resembled a form that other throwers actually use.  Here is the funny thing:  when I threw with that almost form, my distances inevitably improved.

What happened?  Something that I had not really anticipated:  instead of constantly worrying about every thing, I just got out and threw.

The exception illuminates the example:  at one point in light hammer, I lost.  I almost threw and lost control. I reset.  I started again and hit the ground.  I reset.  I tried the third time and it circle wildly. I intentionally fouled to get my head out of the game.  After all, this was the light hammer - I had already thrown the heavy for a record.  Thoughts of hammer heights and winding and foot placement ran through my mind like a stream.

So I shut it off.  And walked up the next time, grabbed the hammer, wound it once, and just threw.  47'.  A new PR.

Am I going to ever reach the elite Masters?  Doubtful - genetics is against me: my body weight is at least 60 pounds below the next competitor.  But can I learn to throw and at least be a competitor? Absolutely.

I need only to do.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Branchless tree that stands
waiting to be picked and pulled
and hurled skyward.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Last night as I was driving home the local radio show host noted that in Forbes the 2012-2013 highest grossing living celebrity was Madonna with $125,000,000.  He pondered about this a bit and noted that she has been involved in entertainment since 1984 and still continues (apparently) to pull in popularity and revenue.  A caller noted that his wife had gotten a book written by her to give to their granddaughter.  It is interesting, noted the host, how she has been able to reinvent herself.

Which got me to thinking.  Reinvention.  Reinventing selves.  Celebrities do it:  Madonna, Elton John. Robert Downey Jr.  But do regular people as well?

And what is reinvention?  This is the part where I really began to ponder the implications of such a thing.  Is it simply taking everything in your life that is undesirable and doing the exact opposite?  Is completely changing your persona?  Is it a combination of both or is it even more drastic:  a complete reinvention of who you are as a person?

Admittedly most of us probably reinvent ourselves over the course of our lives as we slowly move in to new interests and relationships and move out of old ones as well.  But this seems to be something of a natural change in life, much as a tree may send out branches to chase the light without changing the underlying shape of the tree.  Reinvention - as discussed and practiced in this context - is much more drastic than that:  a total remaking of the public personality into something that someone is not or is at least perceived not to be.

There is certainly no consideration here in reinvention to stay in the public eye (since I am not in it anyway) - but there is some consideration in being able to move forward in my own life - as Socrates noted, the biggest problem with traveling is that we always take ourselves with us everywhere we go.  And if ourself is what is holding us back from moving on, perhaps it is time to change that - but in a very conscious and planned way.  A reinvention, if you will.

What would such a reinvention look like?  I am not fully aware of all the details as I consider it.  Surely changing those things that we dislike about ourselves is part of it.  But it has to be more than a simple change from one to another.  It has to be a grasping of an entirely new thing, as when one drops the sword when two swords are locked together to grapple with the hands to gain the victory.  Yottsu te o hanasu, dropping four hands, Musashi said.

I am not fully sure what it looks like - but I fully know it needs to be done.  In some ways I have come as far as I can as who I am. To do more, to go farther, I may need to reinvent who am I am, to become (in some ways) someone else.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Making Quicker Decisions

What is the precise point at which one decides that one is simply done and moves on?  Not the fiftieth conversation we have with ourselves about how we should do something, but the time that it suddenly because a decision made and to be implemented?

I know that it is real.  I know because I have done it before.  There is just suddenly a sense about you, a determination that this time it is an actual decision and that from this moment onward you are simply going to go about the business of moving in this new direction.

My real interest is probably how does one get to that point more quickly.

As I have discussed before, I am someone to whom the art of making decisions - real decisions, decisions that are acted upon - is difficult.  I procrastinate.  I temporize.  I find reasons to accept the status quo and continue on with it, even as I may become more and more unhappy with the situation at hand.  It is only after I seem to reach a point - which arguably I should have reached some time earlier -that I finally make a choice.

And this is the issue: the amount of time it takes to make that choice, to reach that point of commitment, to agree internally that it is time to move forward.  Imagine what would be possible if I simply chose to compress this cycle, to make the commitment to move on after, say, three times instead of fifty?

I was reminded of this last night at Nighean Dhonn's soccer practice where her coaches kept encouraging them to "make quick decisions, make quick decisions".  Slow decisions made in the course of sports telegraphs one's moves to the other team and gives them time to adjust.  It would seem to be no different in my life as well:  the amount of time it takes me to commit to making that next step, moving on from the bad situation, gives life or the people involved the ability to "fix" the problem - which never really seems to fix the problem as too often it addresses only the symptoms, not the root cause.

It is not that the evidence may be there - it often is.  It is not that need for the change is there - it often is.  It is a matter of simply finding the confidence and ability to say "Yes, this really is not right.  It is time to do something different.  It is time to change this situation."

Because the more quickly we move from the undesired situations the more quickly we are able to move to the better ones.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Work Hard, Get Experience, Leave

I had an epiphany at work yesterday.

It is probably no secret to those who know me that I am unhappy with my current position.  It is arguable whether or not I am unhappy with my line of work as well:  there are days when I can actually look and say that I am making a contribution to the greater good.  However, there are reasons which lead to believe that in terms of personal and professional growth, I have reached my limit.

The problem, of course, is finding another position. 

Part of that problem, of course, is experience.   With so many people in the market with experience it is becoming harder and harder to gain employment.  As a result of it being an employer's market, the list of skills and experience one needs to have is becoming greater and greater.  There are combinations which 10 years ago would have been unrelated which are now actively sought as requirements.

In other words, it comes  down to experience.  And thus my ephiphany.

There are days when I am completely unmotivated at work.  Days where I feel my effort is wasted and ignored.  Days when I try to find the motivation - and cannot.  But the experience is valuable to my future - everything I do, every task I complete, every experience I gather is something I can use towards a higher position and greater responsibility.

My ephiphany?

Work Hard.
Get Experience.

If one only relies on motivation from the current job, one will inevitably fall short of accomplishing all that one can there.  Efforts will be ignored, thanks not given.  However, if one can find in the tasks the promise of taking the experiences somewhere else, the work has at least some purpose beyond the immediate accomplishment of tasks:  it builds your body of knowledge and what you have done.

But in this world it always needs to be conducted within the context of the greater whole.  I am not just working hard to work hard.  I am working hard to get the experience, to get the experience (or education or skills - fill in the blank) to move forward in my life;  ultimately, to leave.

Is this a panacea for all things work related?  Not at all.  The environment may still be toxic.  People may still be difficult to work with.  But at least the effort spent every day is not wasted.  It has the power of transmutation, of being transformed from lead into gold in the future.  We need only use it that way to make it so.

Work Hard.
Get Experience.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Proof III

So my proof arrived this weekend.

I am excited because this looks like a real book - about 180 pages long - and represents my most significant attempt at writing to date - as you may recall, the genesis for this book was almost a year ago during National Novel Writing Month.  It is 50,000 words (more or less) - in other words, an actual book.

Going through the proof has been a little depressing - although I reviewed it three different times, I am still shocked at the amount of errors that I have missed.  That, of course, is a little disheartening as one continues to find them.  But I have to keep things in perspective:  1)  It is about 50,000 words; and 2)  I have no editorial staff (except myself) to catch these things.  Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

But I need to makes sure that I do not lose the larger picture.  I have received back a proof - by the end of the month, I will achieve the goal of having released it.  In terms of writing, that now makes three books that I have self published - three books that, at the beginning of 2012, simply did not exist.

Perhaps I cannot do everything, but I can do more than I imagine.  I need only make the effort.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Expected Instead of Recognized

There is nothing worse than having your efforts and accomplishments ignored.

It happened to me yesterday.  In front a large group of people as part of the recounting of events, the accomplishment of an audit with no observations - arguably an important event - was not even mentioned.

One's mind runs the gamut in such situations.  First one lets it pass by.  Then one becomes angry, then agitated, finally settling into a simmering heat. Two weeks of preparation.  3 days of effort, accomplishing nothing else.  All to have it swept under the carpet.

This is one of the questions I have added to my repertoire of questions during interviews:  "How do you recognize and reward achievement?"  It is a bold question, I know.  But I have come to realize that how companies portray their recognition of effort is how the ultimately treat those that work for them.

To treat the extraordinary as ordinary is to ensure that efforts will become minimized.  There is nothing more enervating that to demonstrate in actions that the effort that everyone claims they want to see is nothing more than something to be expected - and ignored.

For me?  There is nothing much to do at the present time:  any public display of "look at me" looks exactly like the petulant activity it is designed to be.  It will hardly change the course of my year.    But it does (perhaps finally) give me some of the clarity that I have been seeking.

As Seth Godin would say, in today's economy no-one is going to pick you.  Pick yourself.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

People Who Do Not Want To Win

I have come to the conclusion that many people do not want to win.

Oh, they say the do.  They say they want to reach their goals or be the boss or win the lottery.  They say they want to see something through to completion or make the change that changes everything.  But in point of fact, they do not really want to.

Why?  This puzzled me a bit.  After all, is not winning - however you define that - the goal?  Is not moving forward towards victory - be it an election or a simple thing like losing 10 pounds - the point of what we want to do?  If we do not, life simply becomes a series of tasks that we have to life through, a treadmill which we on which we are constantly moving but never moving forward.

I think I know why.

Many people do not want to win because they have not been taught how to win.

What is winning?  Winning is victory.  It is an outcome which you sought and achieved.  It is the 10 lbs lost.  It is the local election won.  It is the race  you finished, even if you were the last one.

But winning - just winning - does not stop there.  There is always the next step.

Sports teams understand this.  It is called the season.  There is are a series of games in it. The team plays each one.  How foolish would it seem if the team decided after their first win "We are done!  We have made it!" - and then proceeded to lose the rest of the games.  No one would call them winners.  We would call them losers.

Is there an ultimate win?  Of course.  It is called the championship.  Even then, with the trophy and the acclaim, there is still another season, another set of games to win.

We have become trained to accomplish tasks, to check things off our lists.  We have not been trained to win - and by win I mean not only achieve the victory, but realize that there is another win, another task, another goal to complete.

Winning is not static and passive.  It is active and ongoing.  Those that are winners understand this.  Those that do not will feebly achieve once or twice, sigh, and then declare that that they do not have the ability to win.

Be different.  Be a winner.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Letting Go of the Need for Pleasing Others

I am finding that one of the hardest things to let go of is the continual sense of wanting to deeply please others to have them like me.

This is an old feeling, one that stems from a long way back in my own history.  It is not a bad quality in general of course:  if people feel pleasantly about your or concerning you, they are more likely to help you out or do what you ask.  That is a fine thing and certainly a cornerstone of general human interactions.  But it tends to consume your life when in moves into the personal realm as well.

It becomes an anchor - a thing which constantly holds one back from doing or trying other things.  One is always concerned with what others are thinking about you and how that impacts whether or not they like (or even love) you.  All one's actions become a series of carefully constructed events, while one carefully watches out of one's eye for the slightest hint (real or imagined) that the other either likes or dislikes what is being done.  Even the slightest hint of disapproval is enough to stop enjoyment of an activity; even the slightest hint of approval is enough to propel one into greater efforts.

This is  a fool's game, of course:  one becomes a construct of the likes and dislikes of others rather than one's own person.  Not only are interests and activities pursued based on what the other may think, but unchecked our very lives become not our own but what we think someone else things our lives should be like.

It is a terrible way to live.

What is the solution?  The simplest and yet most difficult of all things: simply be yourself.

Simply be yourself, unfettered by the potential likes or dislikes of those around you.  Pursue - truly pursue - those things which interest you.  Pay scant attention to those whose approval you used to seek as to their opinion of it.  Whether they like or dislike it is neither indicator of their level of like or dislike of you nor of the value you have as a person.

Because in the end, you will be you.  Truly you.  You will find those kindred spirits for whom such things hold interest.  And you will also find that the opinions of those who you thought mattered did not really matter at all.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Unable to Compete

I have realized that in a lot of ways I am unable to compete.

Oh, not in Highland Athletics or Running or Iaijustu or any of the other activities I do.  There, I will continue to compete, even if I am always destined to be in the rear of the pack.  No, my inability to compete lies largely with much of the world.

I am not as exciting as a TV program.  I am not as interesting as Pintrest.  I am not as riveting as a sporting event.

I confess that for years this bothered me - after all, I am a person and therefore by default should be of more interest.  But what I've come to realize is that by forcing such interest, one accomplishes nothing.

It was very much like this when I was in high school and even college trying date.  The lengths I would go to so that I was interesting, the amount of effort I would spend constantly be in the world of the person I was pursuing - all so that I would be seen as someone interesting and desirable and worthy of attention.

It never quite worked out, of course - the problem with trying to generate interest in one's self is that unless real interest is there, the whole structure falls apart as soon as attention is distracted from it.  It is an interest that has to be constantly maintained to be active, which becomes not an interest at all but rather almost a marketing campaign which will fail as soon as the next model comes along.

And thus, the simple acceptance that I am unable to compete.

Am I worried?  Surely not - I have plenty to occupy my time and plenty of people around me who grace me with their friendship not because of anything I inherently have or can do but simply because we are kindred spirits.  And surely at some point the interest will turn:  the show will run out of seasons, the website will get old, the season will end. 

And I will still be here - perhaps  not as flashy as the rest but secure in the fact instead of wasting my time and energy competing, I have simply continued on in being and doing.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Feeling a little lost this October morning.

My life feels....lost. In translation. Or maybe in transition.  I am not really sure how to regard it.

I am not sure who I feel like.  Certainly not myself - or the way I perceive myself.  Sure, I go through all the motions of the life that I lead.  I do the things that I have always done.  I interact with the family that I have interacted.  And yet there seems to be a disconnect between these activities and me.

Maybe interacting with high school students more has me thinking - thinking about when I was in school and how the world was a blank canvas ready to be painted on, where in so many ways I did not realize or accept the concept of things I could and could not do.  When possibilities seemed endless.  When things such as honor and romance still seemed alive - the old style, as in the High Middle Ages or the great sagas of Japan.. 

When the people I enjoyed spending time with - my friends - were the ones I spent almost all my time with, not snippets of phone conversations and short electronic posts wedged into our lives.

I understand we cannot go back in time and in many ways I would not want to.  Still, that enthusiasm and the possibilities that lay before us tantalize me with the phantom-like appearance that comes to me through association.  It almost becomes a longing as I go through my essentially pre-programmed day of activities and items I need to do.

Is this it?  Is this all there really is to being where I am today?  If not, where does the renewed promise of such enthusiasm and zest and belief come from?

Friday, October 11, 2013


So my manuscript is essentially edited.

This has been a long uphill battle - not the writing so much (that was completed in November of last year) as the editing. Part of my reluctance has been the initial comments that I received and the subsequent doubts that I had about what I wrote; some of it was simply an output of the fact that editing is not something I have done a great deal of and so I am slow at.

Either way, the task is done.

I will make my corrections and upload the manuscript and order the physical proof. Assuming there is nothing that is significantly wrong that cannot be corrected via word processing, the book will be ready to release.

How do I feel about it?  More of a sense of relief than anything else.  This has been nagging at my mind for almost a year now, wanting to get completed so I can mentally move on to the next project. There is something to the quote "Artists ship" by Steve Jobs - not only from the idea that things need to be moved to completion and out the door, but that we need to complete our projects so that we can mentally and spiritually move on to the next one.

Nanowrimo is coming.  I want to be writing.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


So yesterday I got rear-ended.  Complete stop.  The very nice (and very embarrassed) lady behind me saw the green light and reacted.  The front of her car is smashed.  My bumper is beaten (but I beat it back on for the time being) and muffler is at angle that is probably not right.  No-one was injured - all in all a pretty minor incident.

What surprised me about it was her reaction.  We got out, looked at the damage, and exchanged information.  She was a little shaken (unsurprisingly).  I was more concerned about her than the car.  Her response to the incident was something along the lines of being surprised and grateful that I was taking things so well.  

I shrugged it off at the time but thought about it later.  I truly wasn't all that concerned.  The biggest issue - her health and my own - seemed intact.  Accidents happen - and we usually don't intend them to, that is why we call them accidents - so it is not as if we plan them to.  The cars, although nice, are simply things.  They can be repaired or totaled - and I don't get to control that process at all.

I carried on until, driving later, I passed three cars pulling off the road.  Looked like a small rear end accident.  The damage to the car did not seem to be near that of the one that hit me and the car that was "hit" had no visible damage.  But you could tell the driver that had been hit - her body language and her short conversation to the driver of the other car indicated that such a thing was a very big deal.  It was going to be an unpleasant incident - and the police would undoubtedly show up for this one.

Is this what we've become?  A society that is so concerned about our things and our place in them that we expect people to explode when things like accidents occur?  Where we believe that we have a right to our anger for our inconvenience?  Where we have blurred the lines of importance to where things truly are seen as equal to individuals?  Where worrying about the impact on our lives overshadows the other individual involved?

I was in an accident yesterday.  My car will need to be repaired.  No-one was injured. 

There really are more crucial things to my life - and to all of our lives.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Collapsed Cheese

So cheese making occurred this weekend.

This has been something which I have had to temporarily suspend due to our impending move, and then our move, and then our unpacking.  The situation with cheese making is not so much that it requires a lot of time - it does not - as much as it requires focused attention at certain points in the process:  hold for this long, slowly stir for this long, press for this long, etc.  It requires focus which can happen as an adjunct to other activities but they need to be able to be dropped at a moment.

I was making English Farmhouse Cheese, a relatively simple cheese that I have often made:  hold 75 minutes, cut the curds, drain into molds and flip.  The first three steps went perfectly.  The last was a bit of a problem, as it often seems to be.

The nature of the cheese draining is that it is accomplished by gravity:  as the whey settles out, the curds are pressed together.  At some point one turns over the mold to get the cheese out.  Herein lies the difficulty:  wait too long and the cheese will not drop consistently but rather in pieces, wait too short and the cheese will loose its shape as there is still too much whey in the curds.

This was one of the too short days:  the cheese either collapsed or completely lost its shape.  It is initially very disappointing of course, as the cheese looks terrible.  I started mentally kicking myself and reminding myself of how I cannot do anything.

And then I tasted it.  Still tasted the same.

I took a moment to reflect - the cheese is going nowhere but in our house.  The Ravishing Mrs. TB and Na Clann do not care how the cheese looks, just how it tastes.  Yes, it would be better if it was visually attractive - but for the purpose for which it was to be used it was just fine.

It was good reminder to myself not only of how sometimes the end result is not as important as the process. It was also a good accountability as to continuing to do something - to often I fail in executing and then suddenly retreat from an activity, decreeing that I am not good enough - and never will be.

The reality is this:  sometimes it looks good, sometimes it does not.  The cheese, however, will still taste the same.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Out of their cages,
the rabbits speed over grass,
heads into the wind.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Last Good Day

I remember the last good day.

It was Halloween last year.  We were still located in the old back area, with its ghosts of the previous employees still haunting the cubes.  Fear Mor had decided that we were going to enter the pumpkin carving contest so he had procured a pumpkin and set of tools.  An Ghearmannaich went one better: find a dremel tool, he began carving a quail into the side of the pumpkin.  Fear Beag was on the sidelines making commentary, and The Other was in the corner, watching. 

I call it the last good day because it is the last time I can remember us as a department having a good time together.  We were all getting along, we were all located near each other and there was a genuine sense that we were meshed as a unit.  There was laughter and jokes and sarcasm and probably some off-color comments as well.  It felt like everything that a good work team environment should be.

Nothing, of course, lasts forever.

Relationships frayed (as they always do) to the point some would not talk with others.  People left - first Fear Mor, then The Other, and finally An Ghearmannaich.  The space has changed as well - perceived as being too far away (and taking up too much space), we were relocated in the building: 3 of us crammed up together in a space for 2 and the 2 others put halfway across the building (until they too both left, leaving us as a small appendix in a larger building). 

That space has become doubly haunted now - not just by the ghosts of previous employees but by the ghosts of us, wandering through the file cabinets with their documents that scarcely anyone will review again.  When I am back there I occasionally hear the laughter in the depths of the solitude.

This almost Halloween - scarcely a year later - it will be myself and Fear Beag to celebrate the holiday.  I doubt we will be carving a pumpkin this year, or even thinking about going to the general celebrations.  There's something about a real life haunting - a haunting of the soul - that leaves one somewhat chary of engaging in a party pretending to celebrate the same thing.

Friday, October 04, 2013


I find myself oscillating  between extremes.

I find myself either excited or frustrated, angry or relatively satisfied.  I suppose the oscillation  itself is something one can learn to live with.  What bothers me is the unbalance between these two states:  I find myself far more frustrated and angry than excited and relatively satisfied.

Where does the anger and frustration come from?  Lately (as you may have gleaned from my writings) it is largely stemming from my work:  not so much the work per se, but the great extent to which I feel powerless to impact or change things in any meaningful way.  Instead, the ability to do anything other than tasks - i.e. change policy or make significant tasks - is extraordinarily limited.

Maybe it has been this way everywhere else I have been.  Memory is always faulty of course, and I may very well be wrong on this.  But with one exception in which the circumstances were similar, I can scarcely recall a time that I have felt so unable to do more than simply execute work.

And maybe that is the core of the problem.  I want to do more.  I want to be able to set policy, to a make a difference, to impact people's lives.  Too often in my current role my ability to do all of these seems extraordinarily limited.

A couple of things have come out of this experience which I need to capitalize on:

1)  The choice of who is above you is critical.  A bad manager completely makes the difference between a bearable job and a prison.

2)  I have limited patience in and stomach for personnel related issues.  I enjoy working with people in my group as primus inter pares, or first among equals.  I do not do well in hierarchies.

3)  I want to be able to make a difference in people's lives and impact them - not just necessarily in ways to just make them feel better but in ways that make a difference in the lives.

I am not sure what to do with information.  I am relatively sure none of this can be implemented in my current role in a way that would truly satisfy these longings.  Perhaps there is nothing more to take away than to remember that, as someone has said, your next decision is your best decision.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Moments of Clarity

A moment of true, unaltered clarity can be one of the most elusive things in life.  We can have epiphanies, we can have ideas, we can have understandings but a true moment of clarity - that piercing instant when something something suddenly becomes completely clear.

Such a thing happened to me yesterday.

It was a meeting that many who work in the corporate world will be familiar with:  the HR meeting, where the process of dealing with employee difficulties (opportunities for improvement, if you will) was being reviewed.  The presentation was more entertaining than most but much of the content still the same from any HR presentation one would recognize.  And then, suddenly tucked away in time midst of a discussion of supervisors came the following statement:  "If employees don't like their supervisors, they're free to vote with their feet."

It just hung there for a moment, floating in air.  Someone apparently did not understand it and questioned it again and the same words came out:  "If employees don't like their supervisors, they're free to vote with their feet.  They can leave."

The world became piercingly sharp in its clarity for a moment.

The implications were obvious.  After all of the discussion we had just had concerning how supervisors were to help guide their employees and deal with issues, the equivalent relationship - that of how employees deal with their supervisors - was summarily addressed: "If employees don't like their supervisors, they're free to vote with their feet."

All of a sudden much of my consternation melted away.

Why?  Because there was no longer any need to bear it.  There was no need to be hopeful or even concerned that such things would change - because as a matter of policy, they would not.  Management would not - except, I assume, in extreme circumstances - hold supervisors to the same process and program that they would hold employees.  The relationships above are less relationships than they are religious relationships:  take what is given to you, and like it.  If not, find a new religion.

Or new workplace.

Things did not change other things, of course.  My job will be the same this morning as it was  yesterday.  But I go to work this morning with a clarity of understanding that I did not have yesterday.  We are often taught that we can - and should - change things if they are incorrect or wrong.  What I realized yesterday is that this is simply not only true. The only thing you can truly change is yourself.  And if changing yourself does not resolve the issue, perhaps it is best to realize that voting with your feet is the best path towards making a better tomorrow for yourself.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013


Moving through kata,
I see my troubles dissolve
with the flowing blade.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


I am struggling this week.

I feel powerless to change anything.  My life seems completely overtaken by events beyond my ability to change them.

Work is slowly devolving into a long list of things that simply needs to be done - and not enough people to do them.  The impending departure of An Ghearmannich  and the absence of Fear Beag has given me a taste of what life will be like from here on out:  too much work, too much quiet, no spirit.  In other words, a typical office environment.

The triumph of the status quo has not helped either.  Within two weeks we will be right back where we were, sacrificing another period of time to do another update meeting for another set of people who won't be doing any of the work.  The changes I kept hoping would come - daring I use the word fantasizing would come? - have not arrived.  I am reminded, yet again, that I am merely someone to do the work that others command - and make it ridiculously easy for them to do in the process.

More help?  Unknown.  The appropriate paperwork was filed.  That said, the filing of paperwork is scarcely a guarantee of anything, let alone of actually getting the help one needs.  And that is just the listing of the position - there is still the culling, the interviewing, the realization that you will probably not get what you had. 

All the time grappling with the concept that your department has one of the most critical roles in the company - as defined by law - and yet it has the least of people to carry them out.

Home feels little better.  Our lives have devolved into a series of schedules, transporting one here and another there and making sure things happen on time.  Add to this the daily things that simply need to be done in life - dishes washed, clothes put away, general picking up - and suddenly the time has simply been whisked away. 

I try to convince myself that my feelings are deriving from a lack of sleep so I try to go to bed earlier.  I am unsuccessful in my effort as I still seem to wake up the same amounts of time - and everything that has to be done is still there.

I am trying to find some shred of encouragement, so sign that all of this is leading to some greater end that I simply cannot see right now.  All I seem to keep coming back to is a list of e-mails in the in-box of my life, all bearing tasks to do or requests to do things which have not been done.

There are times, I suppose, I dreamed of being a leader.  I find I am simply a doer of tasks.