My friend works as an independent contractor; I saw her the other day, and, in asking how she was, discovered she was quite miserable; pressing a bit as to why, she lamented that, being a contract worker, she did not receive a fancy iWatch, whereas her other co-workers did.
This went on, into a much longer argument about how contract workers are unappreciated. This is the long email I wrote her when I returned home (in part):
I don’t want you to think you are in an impossible situation. It really has to do with how we can define user experience.
Take this afternoon: I decided to take my wily dog on a run with me. Having done it, there are many ways to rate the experience. One one hand, she pulled in every which direction..she was slower than me, and needed more breaks..oh no, it was bad! Look at all the bad about it! However, look at it like this: in my time resting I paused and looked around, at one point meditating while she caught her breath; we came upon some geese, and as soon as they saw her they scattered to the water: there were more geese than her, and they were bigger than her, but they flew away. I thought about that: in the natural world, size and numbers do not so much matter in certain contexts: perception is everything. It made me feel like, professionally, I could be more confident…the things I think that are in my way may well be like the geese…they look like a big army, but could scurry with the right attitude. With EVERY experience, we should judge it by what we gained: and this is a trick, because from nearly every experience, we gain something
I am writing this partly because I see a former version of myself in some of what you wrote; I had a tendency to look at experience and see the bad, the negative. I went to a meditation retreat, and the thing I will have forever is a different view of time.
Past: cannot ever be changed; Future: Unknown; Present: we can do something about this
I don’t like the order in which I wrote this, because really, the future all depends on: 1.) How we internalize the past 2.) How we experience the present
So you see, human existence is caught in a seemingly endless loop: if we internalize our past as bad, and reflect on our present as bad, our future will probably be seen as bad, which then become the present, which then effects the future…even our prediction that the future will be the worst case, this I believe negatively effects our present and then our future.
I can write this about experience, about being positive…but in real life, this is hard. I am attempting to buy my first home, and the process illuminates why home buying is out of reach for most people. The required size of a down payment, the perfect credit you need…this is hard to accomplish. An administrative error by a bank has made me need to get more paperwork, and wait…so the process goes frightfully on. This is not running with my dog, or even the ups and downs of work…this is a bureaucratic nightmare..
I can preach to a friend the importance of being positive in the present, but what I failed to note is how hard that is when the present seems rotten. It is near the end of 2015, and this year was one of sad reminders. That terrorism is still very much with us (in a very broad brush stroke: not just caused by ISIS, but by anyone with access to weapons and a determination/cause); that racism and racial violence is still very much with us; the gap between rich and poor in America continues to grow.
Nothing really seems worth celebrating in 2015, not really; I read through my posts of the year, and they all mention I have hope, but it’s kind of a move of: hope, despite this thing. For many years, I have questioned what has been intrinsic ambition: in a context in which things seem impossible, does it even matter?
I have wrestled with this, because reading, writing, learning, all are intrinsic to who I am; if these things to cease to matter, if it all is about money, or what seems to be unauthentic, what place do I have in the world?
I wish I had an answer; right now, though, I do not. Not an answer that has any logic, or brilliance, or definite meaning; I just don’t want to give up…because I still believe something wonderful will happen..just around the bend.
I will end 2015 with this, fitting for a year of ups and downs
I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world. I may not complete this last one but I give myself to it. I circle around God, around the primordial tower. I've been circling for thousands of years and I still don't know: am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song? Book of Hours, I 2