Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Getting what you want

If you've been "wronged" by someone in a business deal (or a non-business deal I suppose), can you start from scratch the next time you need to deal with them? It's becoming clear to me just how difficult this is, even if the wronging was relatively small.

Actually, this is something that you see a lot in relationships (of any kind). To the outside observer, it seems trivial, even silly. It's easy to be detached and "objective" from the outside. The person on the inside can't just give in...again.

That advice from the outside never seems to transfer. And how can it, they see it from a completely different context.

I have no idea how to solve this problem. If nothing else, we all need to realize that most people interpret your actions through a filter of your past interactions with them. Well, calling it a filter implies that it can be easily removed. It's more like one of those old timey deep sea helmets.

Be careful how you treat people, even if you think it's just a one time interaction. It takes so much longer to undo bad will...

Friday, August 17, 2007

On Trust

My laptop was stolen yesterday. It was on a table at the library, and I stepped around the corner (to ask how to get onto the wireless network). When I stepped back in 15 seconds later, it was gone.

So for the rest of the day, I looked distrustfully at every stranger I saw, wondering if they were the one. I stared down every laptop and laptop bag that I saw...hoping to find the person, kick them in the crotch, and run to safety with my computer.

Today I'm back to normal. However, even if it was just one day, I feel like I learned a lesson in trust. Sometimes I'm baffled by the lack of trust that certain people have, especially with those who are supposed to be loved ones in their lives. You just want to shake them and say "SNAP OUT OF IT. Don't you see that your behavior is sabotaging all the important relationships in your life?".

But it makes sense right? If they were raised in a world of mistrust by their parents, siblings, family members, and friends...then they've learned to spend every day as if someone just stole their laptop. I can't imagine having to unlearn years and years of that.

BTW, please wear your steel toed boots for me this week, in case you happen to see someone sketchy carrying a black Toshiba Satellite...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On Closure

Another thing the main character in The Active Side of Infinity had to do was bring closure to some past events of his life. He'd had these two women friends years ago, and was basically in love with both of them, and they were in love with him. Because of the awkward triangle, nothing ever materialized, and although they hadn't seen each other in years, the situation had been basically left in limbo.

The other issue was one in which he was faced with a very large decision that would test his morals. He ended up being sent out of town forever, and never had to make the choice.

I'm sure we all have unresolved situations like this in our lives. Common wisdom seems to tell us that there are certain things we should just let go of because they are in the past. It's true you shouldn't hold on to unresolved issues, but ignoring them will only draw things out further.

It's like slowly removing a band-aid over the course of 20 years. Why not just rip it off and be done with it?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Everyone you know

Right now I'm reading a book called The Active Side of Infinity by Carlos Casteneda. (If you want to know more about the book, read the reviews in the link). In it, the main character is urged to go through recapitulation, where you recount the events of your life. To start, you write down a list of everyone you've ever met, starting with the present and working backwards. Then you go back to the top of the list and remember everything you can about each person...every little detail. Not only should you start to remember things you had forgotten, but your memory should improve on the whole.

Has anyone out there ever tried something like this? It almost seems too daunting to me at first, but yet strangely intriguing. If done properly, it would seem that you would cover most of the memorable events of your life (and many "unmemorable" ones as well).

But what about things that have happened to you while you were alone? My guess is that most people will find that the majority of the important and interesting moments in their lives happened in the company of others. This brings us back to talking about "it's not what you do that defines the quality of your life, it's who you do it with".

When I was stuck on the couch for weeks after having surgery on my ACL, I was bored out of my mind. It wasn't until my last few days that I had a revelation. I simply closed my eyes, and daydreamed through all my most favorite memories (of course, most involved me walking!).
Maybe that's something we all need practice doing in those moments of boredom or unhappiness.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On Death

This has been a bad year for mortality in my world.

My grandfather died from complications of lung cancer.

A friend of mine made a mental mistake while climbing and fell 110 feet. Amazingly, he lived.

My grandmother fell down the stairs and broke her neck. Paralyzed from the neck down, she asked to be taken off life support a week later, and died within 30 minutes.

A friend of a friend, one of the worlds best free soloers (climbs without ropes), was swept out to sea by a rogue wave and never seen again. He was merely standing on a ledge below an unroped climb he had just completed...one where a fall could have killed him.

Another friend of a friend was murdered by someone she didn't know while working in a national forest.


Until this year, I had never much thought about the difference between dying and "being killed", but obviously there is a huge difference. Each one of those deaths has felt completely different....almost as though the way in which they died somehow supersedes my actual relationship to the person.

If we live in the present, then it doesn't matter how someone died. All that we know and can feel is that they are gone forever. Why should it make a difference whether or not their death could have been prevented?

If you are blessed having time to say goodbye, it makes a big difference. You come away with a better sense of closure and fairness. But sadly, life isn't fair and good people can have their lives taken away just as easily as everyone else.

When someone is gone, all you are left with is your own thoughts and the shared memories you have of that person. Don't ask why too many times. Don't endlessly ponder all the what-ifs.

Usually, the only thing you can truly learn from death is to value your own life, and the lives of the people who are important to you.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Someone else: On Stuff

Penelope Trunk gives us this amazing article on materialism: http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2007/08/07/5-steps-to-taming-materialism-from-an-accidental-expert/

An inspiring article even if you have only a few useless things lying around...

The fine line

There is a fine line between perceived competence and incompetence. I'm working on two separate deals right now. In one of them, it looks like I don't know what I'm doing. In the other, I'm doing so well that the other side actually recruited me to come work for them.

How can this be?

Well, one side came in assuming I don't know what I'm doing. The other side assumed I did. The resulting results are immeasurable.

The attitude and respect you show someone can have a huge impact on their performance. They will be willing to do more for you.

Although really it's just a subtle shift in your attitude, there is a HUGE difference between asking for someone's help, and telling them what to do.