October 7th, 2017

My commute takes the better part of two hours, each way.  I use the time to think.  I’m in my thirty second year of indentured servitude, and once again the corporate machine is groaning.  I’ve always been flummoxed by a company’s ability to stay in business and make profits under a consistent flow of poor decisions.

Comparison.  Competition.  There are times when I slip into that region of discontent.  I say discontent, because it seems that the state of contentedness is contrary to the concepts of competition and comparison.  Those concepts imply winning versus losing, better versus worse.  Contentedness suggests enough.  I like the idea of enough.

It started with an innocuous comment about success.  So and so is more successful than you (me) because so and so is perched at the top of the corporate ladder and is compensated accordingly.  The comps are flying already and I’ve barely begun this post.  I feel compelled to look into the root word structures –surely there are connections.  Comparison.  Competition.  Compensation.  Compel.  I digress, in true sueeeus fashion…

I was thinking about my initial reaction to the comment.  I felt defensive.  So and so isn’t better than me!  I could have reached the echelons of corporate leadership, had I chosen.  I felt hurt, as though it were some sort of reflection of failure on my part, as though I needed to convince someone, anyone, everyone, that I am just as good.  I felt jealous.  So and so makes more (money) than I do and has a fancy pants title.  Of more concern to me is why it even mattered.  My reaction was so immediate, and I felt as though I needed to justify myself and somehow assert that I am not a failure.  I also wonder why my reaction is so binary, so extreme.  Success.  Failure.  No in-between.

The nature of my work is all about the ones and the zeros, so there is that.  But the nature of my self is all about the in-betweens, or rather, perspectives.  Just because true/false, on/off, all/none, right/wrong are points that describe entities in a known dimension, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those are the only states.  They are obvious states, but not necessarily the only states.  Perception through one facet of a crystal may be very different from perception through another facet of the same crystal.  Is either right? Is either wrong?  They are simply different.  Why does there have to be a right or a wrong?

I think it’s a limitation of the human mind.  People are generally comfortable with the knowns.  Binary things are easy to wrap one’s mind around, because they are very simple to grasp.  Multidimensional things are complex.  Matrices within matrices from infinity to infinity in all directions.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I fell into a funk for a few days, as I worked through these thoughts.  I thought about the comparison game.  I mostly have the experience of my own life and culture to draw from, and it occurs to me that life as I know it has contained a steady feed of information that has contributed to the shape of my thoughts and emotions.  I don’t remember when it dawned on me that I could choose how to steer my thoughts and emotions.

There is so much conditioning taking place with the onslaught of information that we absorb through media.  When, if ever, does it occur to us to question the validity of the information that we absorb?  We get notions of body image based on the examples we see in print and on screen.  Does it occur to us to take a look around at a general cross-section of society and realize that almost nobody looks like the actors and models we see portraying life?  We get notions of romance which stem from fantasy and set expectations for reality, then feel let down that true love seems unattainable, when in fact we are living in a perfectly beautiful loving situation.  We are fed carefully crafted information designed to promote [something, someone].  It’s called marketing, and it’s a product of capitalism. It’s reason for being is to pad someone’s pockets or promote someone’s power or influence.

It’s so exhausting to justify myself to myself!  Once I recovered from my initial reactionary response to the self-inflicted judgment of failure (since I’m not the CEO), I reminded myself that I had faced precisely such a decision in my early twenties — I recognized ‘career path’ and saw clearly that although I was and am quite capable of ‘success’, that the capitalistic model of corporate America was contrary to my soul, and although the financial rewards and professional accolades are or were tempting, the internal price of or for success was simply not worth it.  I made a choice.

In retrospect, I don’t know where or how I ever attained such wisdom (I am working on some theories), but I am grateful.  Before I’d ever read Buckminster Fuller’s Critical Path, and by the grace of God, I made the better choice, the more valuable choice.  My success isn’t measured in terms of social status, professional status, financial status.  My success is measured in terms of soul status, and it’s only measured by me.

Throughout these thought streams, some key words or concepts kept surfacing.  Source.  Core.  For whatever reason, I am driven by the need to understand.  Anything. Everything.  It consistently emerges as something core to my very being.  I don’t know why (but I’m working on some theories).

Here’s an aside.  I have this thing about connections and structures and origins.  Keys.  Some of the keys that I’ve noted in order to collect and frame my thoughts are the words ‘core’ and ‘source’.  These words resonate with my soul.  In the overlap of my personal life with my professional life, the relevant catchphrase du jour emerges, “Never outsource your core competency.”  Look at that — source, core, comp.  All neatly bundled in a span of five words.  This correlation is busy whirring about in a background process of my mind, and I’m certain that something interesting will come of it, when the forefront of my mind is ready.

I’m no expert.  On anything.  That is the nature of knowledge.  The more you know, the more you realize how little you know of what there is to know.  That is where my affinity for source and core stem from (oh, if ever I could learn how to express myself without dangling participles, split infinitives and any and all manner of grammatical faux pas).

The affinity for source and core spans both my personal and professional lives.  One can think in terms of platform or foundation.  If the foundation isn’t sound, what then?  Every conclusion drawn from such a basis is suspect.  Bad data.  This is where assumptions are dangerous.  Something can become common knowledge through careful marketing or accidental means, yet have no sound basis.  An example is the theory of evolution.  It’s proposed as a theory, yet is generally accepted as a fact.  It might be a fact.  I don’t know.  I haven’t been exposed to the proof.

The core value of what I do professionally relies upon valid source [data].  Finally I remember what I was thinking when I entitled this post, “who’s afraid of the big bad [data] wolf?”.  It’s all about bad data.  Foundation.  Source.

The society in which I live seems to be built on a basis of bad data.  Conclusions or definitions of things like success, beauty, worth, and value are vapor without real substance.

I stand in stubborn defiance and cling to the quest for source, with my own assumption that whatever conclusion(s) may be drawn will be closer to valid, and therefore have some real meaning.

Understanding, for whatever reason, is a hunger of my soul, and I am seeking the peace that passes understanding.  It is attainable, by some measure.  I’m sure of it.

from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard; and I have come for thy words

Many years ago I set my heart to understand.  It’s part of my driving force.  I don’t know why –it’s intrinsic to me.  I haven’t gotten very far.  Or rather, the farther I get, the more I realize how little I know.  I’m very slowly putting the pieces together.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 7th, 2017 at 11:28 PM and is filed under ambitions, language, me, philosophy/religion, politics, work. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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