Do I owe someone that? Do they owe me that?
My brain is swimming in an unnatural and toxic stew of accounting numbers. And this is just the prep for the audits. The real thing doesn’t start until next week.
Like many of us, I like to think that in a crisis or time of stress I will remain relatively calm, level headed, and able to keep my wits about me. I can function even when there’s chaos.
However, as was demonstrated again today, while that might be true to a large extent, it’s also critical to not take it for granted. I can’t simply say, “Oh, yeah, this is stressful, but I’m good when the shit’s incoming to the fan, so let’s just carry on.” No, the lesson I believe is to recognize the stressful situation for what it is and realize that, while I might do better than average or have had some training for how to prioritize and stay more or less functional in the face of chaos, in such a situation it is critical to be extra careful and aware that I might be on thin ice.
We had an appointment at 10:45. All of a sudden it was moved up to 10:15. There’s a significant amount of stress associated with the whole thing. No worries. I’m cool. Cucumbers name their children after me.
Until I got to the appointment and realized that I didn’t have my phone. Or my glasses. I was out of touch and blind as a bat inside arm’s length distances.
No worries! I have my backup pair of glasses that I ALWAYS carry in my briefcase. Except that they weren’t there. They had gotten moved to my backpack for the Seattle & Kansas City trip and never put back.
A little more flustered, a little less confident, I went for the backup backup pair of glasses – they’re in the backpack too.
The pair that I keep in the van I’m normally driving? I’m sure they’re there, but we were driving Hissy today.
I can live without the phone, right? I had my iPad, after all. Except that the day’s events needed me to be available by phone all day.
So once we got the preliminary events out of the way and I had a break where I needed to just wait for an hour, I instead boogied home (fortunately we were only twenty minutes from our house) and solved the problem.
That part at least felt satisfying. But I’m well aware that it’s a problem that I caused with my own carelessness and stupidity.
Stress can’t be avoided.
Dealing and coping with stress can be learned.
But it doesn’t make you Superman.
If you’re smart, it teaches you to recognize the sound of the ice cracking under your feet and makes you be very, very careful.
Today I wasn’t smart. I was discombobulated.
But I recognized it before it was ultimately too late, and I corrected the problem.
Next time I need to avoid it to begin with.
Recently I had been wondering what milestone would be coming up next. Tonight we have an answer and it comes just we’re about to embark on another Nantucket sleigh ride. Which got me to thinking and writing out a big thing on Twitter.
Astronaut Chris Hadfield, who I think is one of the finest human beings out there and someone we should all pay attention to, has said that astronauts know that “there is no problem so bad that you can’t make it worse.”
There’s a lot of wisdom in there – today’s been a fine example. Not that I’ve been the one making the poor decision, but I’m one of those getting affected.
And then we have to go back to work after a long weekend, and it’s going to be a tough week.
A bit more than a year ago I wrote pretty much the same thing that I was going to write tonight.
Go ahead and read that first. I’ll wait. (If that link doesn’t work, just search this site for “Breaking Strain” and you’ll find it. And please let me know that the link doesn’t work – how can I fix it if no one tells me it’s broken?)
Interesting to see the concept, desire for, and borderline desperate need at times for pillow forts. I had thought that particular recurring theme was recent, but everything old is new again apparently.
I’m thinking about this gem from Kipling tonight in terms of expectations, dreams, desires, reality, and hopes.
The juxtaposition of gratitude for what I have, the recognition of how much worse it could be, and the desire for what I dream of.
The memory of passions past, the despair of passions lost, the lust for passions regained.
Those are some nasty little three-ways to be caught betwixt and between!
As Kipling reminds us, we don’t just fail…
Abide the twin damnation-
To fail and know we fail.
…unlike the inanimate stuff we build with, we KNOW we fail!
In spite of being broken,
Because of being broken
May rise and build anew
Stand up and build anew.
…we try again.
A year ago I said, “We’re badasses! Even when we don’t think we are.”
I wonder now just how much thinking is involved. It’s not the brain, it’s the heart. It’s not the body, it’s the soul. We’re badasses not when the world knocks us down, but when we get back up anyway.
Get some sleep. Hug someone you love if they’re there with you. Think about someone you love and smile if they’re not there with you.
Tomorrow morning stand up and build anew.
A dark month, December. The days get shorter, the nights get longer, the temperatures drop, the winds howl, the rains arrive.
Is it any wonder that at the solstice we celebrate, no matter the religious or cultural justification?
Do we think we can frighten the night and the cold away with frantic noises and celebration? Do we as an “enlightened” people simply recognize the results of axial tilt and recognize the circumstantial passing of a defined point in the calliope of Newtonian mechanics? Or does it even matter?
We’ve made it through 11/12ths of this 2018 ordeal. Let us gather our strength to finish strong and bravely meet 2019 head on.
We did a lot of cross-country driving when I was a kid, a LARGE family crammed into a station wagon for hours. I spent a lot of hours learning to play “license plate games” in order to keep what little sanity I had.
Things like that get ingrained deep in the subconscious.
Case in point – California was one of the first states to long ago stop giving everyone a new license plate for their car every year. Instead you get one set of plates and then you get a new sticker to put on it every year. To make sure that you pay your registration every year, and to make it easy for the police to see if you haven’t, the stickers are a different color every year. The 2017 stickers were green – see one of those and you know that the registration is late and you get a ticket. The 2018 stickers were orange – see one of those and you had better have a “DEC” plate to go along with it. The 2019 stickers are blue – lots of them out there right now.
This is that time of year in California when the next year’s stickers start to appear. For years, around Thanksgiving, I’ll start looking, keeping half an eye peeled when stopped at a light. It’s a little game to see when I can spot the first sticker of the new year.
Cheap. Thrills. (As advertised.)
But now I get to cheat. Hissy has “JAN” tags and I got the registration bill last week. I paid it quickly even though it’s technically not due for another two months and ever since I’ve been diligently watching for that first tag of the new year. I haven’t seen it yet. And today’s mail brought mine.
I have the “first” 2020 tag to put on Hissy.
It’s not quite godhood – just a leftover psychosis from a childhood crammed into the back of a 9-passenger station wagon driving from South Dakota to Maryland. But we all take what we can get.