Friday, September 21, 2012

Existential Time

In two days I will turn 40. Half my life ago I was insecure, yet confident in my ability to overcome it. As long as I got my work done then I would achieve. I've contributed - but don't felt like I've led. My skills continue to be limited only to the point where I have been able to teach myself. No conference in the past 17 years of work has taught me skills of actually writing development codes or to design. I've missed out on a technical collaborative process by externalities of lack of resources both in money and time. I've used many a work around to accommodate those limitations.

But what have I achieved professionally?

Awards from the previous decade? Affected change in the way people think about their built environment? Educated someone on the value of long-range planning?

Does this matter in an environment where your personal wealth is the measuring stick?

I'm not wealthy. I can't point to something physical on the ground and say - I built that. My heart lies in the need to be a maker and a doer - but my limited skills allow me to write and cobble together other's ideas into somewhat coherent thought.

The problem is that any confidence I exhibit professionally usually get the placating response of "Stephen's just passionate."

I am passionate. I want to contribute and be part of the group. I think I lead well.

I just have problems seeing the positive results. My boredom leads my mind to wander to examining my deficiencies. It's my fault that I'm bored. It's my fault that I'm not seen as an innovator - just a troublemaker who, if we just tolerate his spouting language enough - we can get him to do his work. He's a pushover. He doesn't take risks.

The worst I've ever felt about this kind of thing happened when I was working at a major airline at DFW Airport. I had left France early from the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Normandy Remembrance so I could keep my job instead of taking the summer to travel around. It was 1994 and that summer Woodstock '94 was occurring. We saw a lot of people my age travelling to New York state and back for the festival.  A young attractive woman came off of the plane and asked me where her connecting flight was located. Her t-shirt proclaimed her recent visit to Woodstock. I asked her how the festival was.

"It was fantastic. You should have been there."

She said this with the disdain in her voice that said to me - 'I can see you have sold out to have a job in a white button down shirt and a polyester tie.'

To this day, I'm not sure if I have sold out. I've sacrificed a lot of free time and potential experiences to chalking them up to being "too expensive, too time consuming. I have responsibilities." No risks involved. The most massive risk I've taken was to quit a job without another one lined up. Providence with with me on that one.

We're constantly bombarded with notions from religion and self-help books, that we need to be happy with our blessings, our lot in life. Yet, we are looked at through the lens of our accomplishments, our productivity, our usefulness get others what they want.  I have my own ambitions and my own doubts. The hypocrisy in my own self and recognizing it in others is almost unbearable. I want to rage against it, but I don't because I'll be told to "suck it up." That's just how the world works.

It shouldn't though.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Midnight on the Firing Line

There is ever increasing worry that once you make a plan, that there is really no ability to guide or control it. I was once asked how could one plan a community/society/etc in a capitalistic environment. Truly you can't. There is inherent freedom to make choices, mistakes or innovations in our environment or society in which nothing can absolutely control. Therefore we're back to the guiding question - how can one plan?

You have to rely on the decisions that you make. You have to let go of the points in your life where the pain of a decision has cost you emotional time. Where the plan has failed. The organic nature and chaos of the event can only seek to control you through embedding into your memory. You have to look at the point as an event where two conical surfaces meet - each ever expanding outwards from the event. One leading to the past. The other to the future. The choices we make determine where on the conical surface our lives take.

Memory is our ability to mark time of the past. Planning is our attempt to mark time of the future.

There are many memories that I would like to remove - in such a way that is similar to the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." I have too many emotions tied up with them. In another vein, I have too many daydreams that distract me from getting things accomplished - becoming more successful - tapping into my creative side which has been buried quite significantly.

As a futurist or a planner, I cannot allow myself to believe in predestination. If I allowed myself to believe that there is a pre-determined destiny for any of us then looking to the future or attempting to plan for it doesn't seem to be very worthwhile. We succeed or fail based on our decisions within our own path. I will take or choose not to take a path. I may (and will fail) - but it will be of my own choosing.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Is There Anything Left to Say?

There is nothing left to say. Sounds have been muffled by frustration or embarrassment. Silence will speak for those who are too afraid or too lazy to speak.

Written words have lost their meanings into pixelated ellipses into the end of the margin.

Surrounded by communication at every opportunity, we are becoming ever increasingly isolated behind artificial glow.

Ending transmission...