Monday, December 13, 2010

Learn to fish

I have never been a big fan of fishing. I can say that it's because I have a tendency to get seasick. I can say it is because this city boy has no need to put my fingers in the mouth of a fish or pull its guts out. I can even say that it goes as deep and nutty as I stay away from a lazy pastime that parades itself as a sport. In reality, there's one simple reason. I don't like the passive-aggressive nature of that activity, specifically on the part of the fish. I know that the real anglers will say the fish wants to be caught but that give and take that can go on for hours is not what I'm about. I like clearly defined roles. I like things to be linear and progressive. Reel some in, let some out, reel in more, let more out. Three steps forward, two steps back. I'm a man, it's a fish. It should be an open and shut case of me reeling it in.

As you can imagine, none of what I have to say today is about fish or the act of entrapment of fish. It is clearly a metaphor for something bigger. At least I see a connection between fishing and what else is really on my mind; you may not. Let me just say that I can almost see the need for that relationship with a fish. There is no way to level with the fish and say - "Listen, you're a damn fish. We all know who is gonna win this. Let's just save some time and get you in the bucket in my boat." You can't reason with a fish or gain perspective. A fish can't say back, "I hear ya buddy, but see... I was on my way home to the wife and kids so this whole catching and eating me thing just isn't gonna work out for me. How about we part ways and just call it good?"

I suppose the complexity inherent in being a person higher on the food chain is enough to mean that our also complex communication abilities don't hold. Maybe life is zero sum after all. What I mean to say is that I, in my unrealistically idealistic and utopian mind, I think that people should always be able to communicate. To the contrary, our complex wants, desires, thoughts, internal musings and lack of communication often create a deep-rooted inability to bring things to the surface.

Let's look at my behavior for a moment. My mind is a constant game of chess. Every iteration of the game from the first movement of a pawn unfurls in my mind. I have a proclivity to determine every possible move and outcome of any situation. I, often, make no move in the first place if I can't be sure how it will all work out. Other times, I make a move and commit to its path and hope the other party makes the moves I foresaw. Rarely do either work out so I try to be adaptable to things that change and adjust accordingly; try being the operative word.

Enter the human dynamic. Not only can you not count on the actions of another to be what you expected; rarely can you count on the actions of another to be what they expected. Here is where you find your favorite, long-winded friend today. Confused and feeling a little like the rug came out from under me. Let me see if I can explain yet remain abstract.

I was heading down a road at a certain speed. All was well. Suddenly I picked up speed, but there as no resistance. To that end, I was encouraged. All was well. Now there was momentum. Suddenly, there was a wall in the way. I did not see this wall nor was I warned about this wall. All was not well. Rather than alerting me, my "travel companion" saw fit to jump from the vehicle to safety. It was then that I was told that the increased speed was problematic, but it was too late. Even slamming on the breaks did not stop me in time and inertia sent me careening headlong into the wall. When I came to from the shock and suddenness, I knew that the damage was total. I was given an estimate that shows it's reparable but there is no corroborating evidence. All is still not well.

Now I will spend time alone at the crash site trying to determine if the road is safe for passage or if this means it will fork and I will soldier on down a new road, on a new journey, on my own. If I had my way, I would have one of three things. The first would be to back up and repeat at the same rate sans wall. The second would be, downshift in time to slow down which would mean by the time the wall was reached, it would no longer be there. The last would be telltale signs of the existence of this wall early enough to make it avoidable.

I guess that's the difference between me and most people. When things change I have to adapt and this forces me to be reactive rather than proactive. I just don't see the changes coming in the near term because I'm fixated on the goal. I try to sprint a marathon and end up doing so alone. People don't want to take up that task and consequently, when I look to my sides I realize they aren't there.  I don't understand the ways of letting out some line and reeling some back in over and over.

Maybe I should find new ways of handling these situations. Maybe I should be less black and white; less pragmatic. Maybe I should just learn to fish.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Potential

It seems major upheavals bring out the blogger in most people. Everyone wants to eviscerate their enemies with a pen (not literally, of course. That would just be gross). Rarely do we find topics of hope or... potential. In electronic/electrical industries we talk about potential to determine different electrical properties of metals, for example. In life we define potential as a perceived future value of something. Its ability to develop into something with time. Many times we don't know what will be, but we see potential for something terrific.

I have to tell you that lately my life has been on a tremendous upswing. I cut out the deadweight and drama by getting rid of the wife. That tied up fairly smoothly and I'm not really worse for the wear. I think we can all agree that parting ways was, by far, the best decision. Another life lesson - with take-aways to be used as we grow.

I'm still plugging along at school and knocking that out as best as I can, although this history class may prove to be something of a challenge. I have a hard time being invested in the re-Stalinization of Soviet Russia. Progress is progress and I suppose this will help shape me as a person.

I got a bit of a bump at the job. I'm not making any more money and my only real compensation is more work and responsibility - at least on the tangible side. Beyond that, it is a wonderful opportunity for personal and professional growth.

After a year of being here and the dust from the divorce settling down, I have been fortunate enough to have my friends clearly outlined for me. Some old friends, some new friends - I have found who is important during an important time.

None of that is what I'm here to tell you about though. I wanted to talk about potential. Those are all good things. Those have all been proven. What else is there that is new and possibly good? Where is the potential?

A couple of months ago I met someone through my friends. She was just another friend. We would all hang out and have a blast together. Sure, I thought she was quite attractive right from jump street but didn't think much of it beyond that. As time went on, I'd have my curiosity piqued at certain points but for one reason or another, I would always disregard.

One week ago, on Thanksgiving we were all together. We cooked, we ate, we drank. We conversed and played games. The night began to wind down. As energy was sapped, either from partying or tryptophan we both took up residence on alternative parts of our friends' "L" shaped couch. As we sleepily chatted, something happened. There was this connection that you only hear about or see Hollywood-ized in Meg Ryan movies. Not only did I feel it, but she felt it and you know what... each knew for a fact that the other felt it. It wasn't spoken about at the time, but we knew.

Over the subsequent days, we've been in contact often. By often, I mean nearly nonstop. We text when we can't talk. We talk when we can. Hours zip by without realization. We talk about real things. We talk about nonsense. We laugh. We laugh a lot. There's never been a dull moment in our friendship and there's not one now in our... whatever this is right now... exploratory time, perhaps?

I love that she has a head for business - she loves finance (how perfect is that for me?) I love that she'll crack up hysterical when I wax intellectual about about why I don't eat living things like yogurt or how waffle fries are better because the waffles hold more ketchup. She doesn't flinch when I make up words on the spot because they fit in context and make me laugh. And then we somehow effortlessly segue into deep talk about fears and goals. Even when this transpires over text message or phone, it's like I'm there. I know her face when she laughs so well that I can see it even when I can't see it.

Could this be the novelty of something new? Possibly. Could it be someone that proves to be an awesome friend but doesn't go deeper? I suppose so. Could this be something amazing? Also plausible.

That is why we talk about potential. I have no crystal ball. If I did, I'd be on a beach somewhere laughing at the morons who missed 100 different IPOs or maybe I'd have created Google or the iPhone. I don't know what the future holds. But I know when to recognize potential and invest in it. To foster and nurture it and see just how it grows.

As I said earlier, potential is not only a measurement of how far we believe something will go. It is a comparison between to similar objects. When two metals, for instance, have the same potential, it is a match. There is no impedance between them. Impedance is also known as resistance.

I have no idea where Kimber and I will be in a year, a month or even a week. I do, however, know that our potential means I'm prepared to find out.