Monday, July 04, 2016

Looking to Solve Implementation Problems with v5.43 of my Life

In my previous blog posting, I relayed a story about the effort to get some new scanning computers working correctly in the department that I manage.  After about two weeks of sending technicians out in an effort to get the machines to maintain the calibration set for them and communicating across the network the way they’re supposed to work, someone figured out that the problem wasn’t with the machines themselves but with how everyone was approaching the problem.  
The machines were running the latest software, version 5.43.  Everyone was using the solutions they’d learned for the previous software, version 5.1.  Once this difference was discovered, the problems were relatively simple to solve.  
I was thinking about this over the week.  I have a feeling that it’s something like this that is at the root of a great many problems we face, both in our personal lives and in the world at large.  The recognition that things have changed, even if ever so slightly, and that the change requires us to alter our methods to solve them.  
Initially, I wanted to write something political for this blog posting.  I think that this inability, or unwillingness, to recognize that things have changed are fueling the political turmoil we’re seeing in the world and in my own country.  This weekend, I saw a news report about the people supporting Donald Trump in the “Rustbelt” states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.  When these voters, most of whom would be considered to be staunch Democrats, were supporting Donald Trump, they gave answers like, “He’ll get the coal mines working again,” or “He’ll bring the steel workers jobs back.”  
In other words, they’re supporting presumptive Republican nominee because they believe he can solve the economic problems of today by creating an American like the one that existed thirty, forty years ago.  I have a lot of reasons to doubt that.  The greater emphasis on climate change that exists today.  The continuing development and evolution of communication and computational technology which made the outsourcing of jobs doable in the first place.  The rise in industrial automation, which is now creeping into the service sector, which will eventually make any job of any sort much scarcer in the future.  The only way to succeed in recreating this past era would be to put the United States in the equivalent of a hermetically sealed state, where we only have to deal with each other and what we have.  
That was initially.  The idea of writing a political blog stalls me out because, while I think I can see the problem I have a much harder time seeing the solution.  Right now, neither one of the two major candidates is saying anything that I haven’t heard numerous times before.  Since neither of them are saying anything to assure me that they understand how new solutions are needed, my only option as a voter has come down to whether or not I want to see the system torn apart, and if so by whom?  Not the best of political choices when one hopes to see a better future.  
My focus has changed.  I’m now using this idea, or trying to use it, as a lens at my own life.  How have things changed, in big ways and small, that are making past solutions untenable.  
My life could be used as a monument to stability.  Or maybe to stasis.  This August will mark my 22nd year working for the same company.  I’ve been in the same position for the past four.  I’ve lived in the same apartment for longer than I’ve been at the same job, and on the same street for a few years longer than that.  And my dreams, the goals I set for myself, my interests, the things I pursue, are pretty much unchanged since High School.  Or maybe even Jr. High School.  
But things have changed.  I know they have.  They must have.  I’ve gotten older, if nothing else.  And that has changed how I regard my position in life.  How much time I have to get to where I’ve always wanted to be.  And it some cases, whether or not it is time, or even past time, to let something go which is no longer a viable goal to pursue.  
The key to knowing the answer to such questions lay in my day dreams.  
There is a scene I recall, decades ago, from the TV show, “The Odd Couple,” with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.  Oscar, played by Klugman, is taking about the dreams young boys have and how they morph as they get older.  As kids, you dream of playing on the team.  Once you reach middle age, you dream of owning the team.  
In this way some of my day dreams have altered.  But some have become more fantastical.  The dream remains the same, but the method of achieving it, the story I create in my day dream that allows me to achieve that goal, becomes more convoluted and improbable...  
“If I just up and quit my job, and go on the Shikoku Henro pilgrimage, taking my laptop and writing every night after I stop my march for the day, and if I could meet someone like...”  
My imagination has recognized something that my conscious brain has yet to acknowledge or accept.  Things have changed.  Whatever methods I created to enact my dreams have lost their efficacy.  Or, the dream itself has lost something, or I’ve lost something regarding it, that might be bringing its validity into question.  
If there is any commonality to my day-dreams, it’s a desire for what could only be called Power.  The ability to, or maybe even as simple as the ability to believe that I can, make changes in the conditions of my life.  I was raised to believe that if you worked hard, did what you were “supposed to do” and take pride in your work, then it was only a matter of time before success would be achieved.  
I am no longer so sure of that. 
This wasn’t going to be a blog where I came up with any answers or neat resolution.  That was part of the problem I had in writing it this weekend.  I needed to get the question in focus.  How have things changed, how have I changed and the world around me has changed, and what does that mean for the achievement of my goals.  
Will I find the solution for version 5.43 of my life?  Or is it time to just scrap what’s there?  

I guess I’ll see. 


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