What Matters Now?



Working in an office there is the cycle of the highs, the lows and the flatliners during during the week. Some of you can relate to the mood patterns as it transitions from Monday Blues to TGIF – Happy Friday! Comic strips, I find, are best at depicting the reality of the workplace.


Credit to Tatsuya Ishida

So today is Tuesday, near the end of the day, and I’m between tasks. I can’t quite get up my excitement to start the next task, so I hang out with the mailroom guy for a wacky conversation to give me a fresh insight on life. (Pretending to “work” at my desk when I’m really checking my email or doing personal research can sometimes feel empty unless I can do it with full permission from my manager (not likely to happen.)) I walk into the mailroom and my buddy looks up. “What’s a five letter word for a mountain?” “Ararat”, I said. He plugs it into his “Nook”, and he’s happy, “Hey that worked!” I hung out a little longer as I too was happy to be doing something interactive with somebody, instead of being in my head doing “design work”.We get a few more words together doing team work. Then I take my leave as my conscience beckons me to go back to my desk and start the new task. Argh… resistance. I don’t want to go into the ivory towers yet. It’s too lonely. It’s too hard. I want fun.


I shake my myself mentally to wake up! “What matters now?” How does what’s happening outside these four walls affect me? I feel so insulated often working in my little world (which is actually scary because I swear I’ve become less intelligent that my skills and knowledge is like this solid single tap root about computer acronyms and methodologies that noone outside of my co-workers really care to know about. As an IT person I’m the one who makes the business users successful. I am like the elf that makes the toys so Santa can give them away and make the kids happy; or the the person operating the lights and sounds on the stage to hi-light the mood of the situation on the stage.)


Then I hone in on my sense of smallness and the fear of it, and it leads me to a discovery. “Wow, this is how Paul feels.” (Paul is a character in my play.) My curiousity and interest in working on the play again is re-awakened. I’m like a child again full of “Wow!” These characters are real. “Wow!” I can’t just design them like a stick figure. They have skeletons and muscles, a nervous system, and they get all gooey and sticky. Gee, I’ve had it wrong for awhile to think that I can manipulate these characters. I can only put them into specific conditions and circumstances and observe and record what they say, do and think.


And I know now why I was stuck for awhile, and I was afraid to get back into the ring to fight the battle. I was already trying to manipulate the outcome of the encounter.   And this is countered by another awesome quote from Bruce Lee:


The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or defeat. Let nature take its course, and your tools will strike at the right moment. – Bruce Lee.


The tools being all my senses especially my heart so that I can write truthfully instead of from the head. I was trying to “figure out” the outcome of the play, when it’s an organic living story, because it is made up of real characters of my imagination and heart. Without the heart, the story will be like the manufactured “perfect” apple on display at the window of a furniture store. It’s not the beautiful smelling apple that someone wants to bite into.


And so it is with my office work too. Yes it can get dry with all that heady stuff, but if I design it with heart – with the intent of making something beautifully functional for my users then I’ve done my job right.  That’s what matters now (figuratively and literally for me.)  Back to work!

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