Sunday, March 10, 2013

In the Midst of Phase Transition

It's been hard coming up with a blog entry this week.
The week has been kinda themeless.  I usually noticed a theme running through my life when I'm writing in my journals.  Recently, the concept of change has been coming up a lot.  Getting that fortune cookie last week, the one that talked about change blowing through my life like a wind this month, was an obvious trigger.  Other things I spotted reinforced that theme.  
This week, though, there hasn't been one thing I can point to as the "This is What my Life is ABOUT this Week," thing.  
Change is still there.  I had another fortune cookie sort of moment.  A Japanese "life stylist," let's say an Asian Martha Stewart, whose blog I follow posted a series of tweets about how we're in the season of change.  It made me think that maybe Change, what to change, how to change, when to change, etc., was going to dominate my thoughts this week.  
It didn't happen though.  It's there in the background, but other things were coming up.
Trust was one of them.  I took my car into the shop yesterday.  The engine light kept coming on.  They replaced the two sensors the code the computer was giving them indicated were the problem.  The light kept coming on though.  Yesterday they found cracks in the connection between the exhaust manifold to the exhaust pipes.  The cracks were allowing air to leak into the exhaust stream.  The manifold needed to be replaced and new seals installed.  
Could it be, I wondered, that this was the problem all along and they only now found it?  I posed that question to the mechanic over the phone.  No, no...  Each time they checked the computer gave them a different code.  This is a new problem.  It had nothing to do with the sensors.  
Do I trust them on this?  I've taken my car to this shop a lot over the years.  I've trusted them in the past.  But did I trust them on this?  And what could I do if I didn't?  
Trust came up in other areas of my life as well, some of which I will keep to myself due to the privacy of the other people involved.  The point is, I was faced with the question a number of times this week of whether I trusted the person I was dealing with, or who I ought to trust in a situation.  
I remember something that happened to me last year.  I caught one of my employees cheating on their time card.  Our timecards are handled through a website, employees login to check in and out.  I wanted to assign work to someone but was told they'd just left for lunch.  When I checked the website, it told me they had checked out a half hour ago and had checked back in five minutes ago.  
What the person had actually done was checked out, worked for a half hour, then checked back in before leaving to take as long a lunch as they wanted. I wanted for nearly an hour for the person to return, after printing out copies of the time sheet to speak to them about.  
Of course, I didn't trust that person after that.  With one act, they had gone from someone I thought of as one of the leading members of the team that I didn't have to worry about to someone I had to watch to make sure they weren't screwing around.  
When someone likes this tells you other people are "getting away" with stuff and I just don't see it, do you believe them?  This person has proven themselves, in my mind, of being untrustworthy.  But does that mean what they are telling you isn't true, a lie to throw suspicion on someone else.  It could very well be a bone of truth thrown to keep me from chewing them out and gnaw on someone else instead.  
And there was this other thing.  It was tied into the trust stuff I can't write about, but it was a feeling I was getting that, no matter what I did, it was going to go wrong.  The analogy I used was that of being a person on the top of a burning building, a high rise, 10 or 15 stories high.  The flames cut off your escape down.  They are burning the floors beneath you.  The smoke is already burning your through and watering your eyes.  You think you can feel the heat through the soles of your shoes.  Are they melting and sticking to the roof of the building?  
You seem to be forgotten.  The fire is on its way to consume you.  Do you stand there until the fire reaches you?  Or, do you leap into the empty air off the building in the slender, lottery ticket thin chance that somehow you'll survive the fall?  
There's a lot left out of the situation.  Whenever you pose a question like this, there is some "situation lawyer," looking for another option.  Are the firemen there?  Why wouldn't they be called?  Maybe they have one of those big air-bag things to set up for you.  Or a helicopter!  Yeah, or one of those cranes, with the hoses on the end?  They don't reach 10 stories?  Are you sure?  
Yeah, I'm sure.  And let's say the fire department isn't there.  I don't know why they weren't called, OK?  They haven't arrived yet.  Take the situation at face value.  What do you do?  
I'll give you the answer I came up with in a moment.  First, there was another item that came to my attention this week that feels like that fortune cookie from last week.  Something with a lesson for me.  
It came from one of my science podcasts that I listen to.  Researchers off the Azores Islands in the eastern Atlantic spotted a deformed dolphin traveling with a pod of pygmy sperm whales.  
In the article, the researchers had no problems wondering why the dolphin would want to join the sperm whales' pod.  With its deformity, the creature's spine is twisted in to an "S" shape, it can't swim as fast as the other dolphins in the pod it came from.  The creature probably couldn't keep up, or the other dolphins may have driven it off due to its low social status and inability to assist in hunting for food.  Being a social creature, it would want to swim with a group.  The pygmy sperm whales swim slow enough for it to keep up.  And being with them would provide protection against predators.  
What the researchers interviewed for the article had trouble coming up with was a reason why the whales were reciprocating the dolphin's social engagement.  They kept using terms like "for now," when describing the relationship.  The whales were letting the dolphin swim with them, "for the time being."  The implication was that eventually, they too would dive deep and swim away, leaving the dolphin to fend for itself again. 
I don't know how this applies to me.  I keep thinking about it.  I keep wondering, hoping maybe, that the dolphin does something for the whales that will bond them together in a weird, inter-species family.  Maybe when the whales dive deep to hunt for squid, the dolphin helps the adult left to baby-sit the calfs that remain near the surface?  I don't know.  I want this twisted, lonely dolphin to succeed.  I applaud its efforts to find someone it can swim with, even if its a group that look nothing like it, instead of giving up and dying alone.  
I remember a decision I made, back when I was a teenager in High School.  It came to me that I needed to make a choice: To keep doing the things I wanted to do, all those things that were branding me as a nerd, and be outside the normal social clicks, or to put those things aside and do what I needed to do to join the cooler kids, in order to be with a large group of friends.  
I decided to be the nerd that I am.  If that meant fewer friends or less opportunities, then that's what it meant.  Better to be me as I was than pretend to be something I wasn't.  
My decision about the burning building?  If the end result is the same, better to take a leap that has a razor thin chance of success, than wait for the fire to take you.  Sure, I know, if ever faced with the same situation in real life, it could very well be different.  But it feels better to be damned for doing than for not doing.  
I think this week might have been a phase transition.  Like ice turning to water on its way to becoming steam.  Dealing with change is melting into my facing issues of trust, on its way to finding the place where I belong.  
At least, that's what I'm going to say for now.  


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