Sunday, March 30, 2008

Change, Disturbed

I'm tired of change. I like routine as much as or more so than the next guy. The old Chinese curse is, "May you live in interesting times." Apt as it is to my present circumstances, I know that only with some minor changes, the majority of roadblocks to my imagined happiness could fall away. And those roadblocks are due to my indecision and a lack of foresight. So, what to do?

Since I started writing this column, gas prices have elevated themselves past the magical $3 mark, I've changed jobs three times, lost my control over my household and my daughter, failed to make long-lasting connections with friends, have lost my mother, realized that any kind of future relationship with my brother will not be and, further, realized that prior relations with him were principally a sham, though I suspected it before, took prescribed drugs that were really bad for me, explored CBT and co-dependency therapy, lost parts of two teeth, lost 40 pounds, lost control of my creative skills. I'm not so much lamenting the loss, as I have done previously, ad nauseum, but I do point to the fact that this is more change that one human is likely to endure or enjoy. I want it to stop.

The choices I've had to make are abysmally difficult and only 50% right leading to a tumbling domino tower of disaster. I know from my experience in business that the least amount of change renders the greatest yield and that applies to changes in the smallest processes as much as it does to general strategy and tactics in business acquisition. Repeatability is the friend of productivity. Please don't tell me "change is good" because I can prove that it's not, easily. It's not a matter of how adept one is at adaptation, it's that adaptation requires time and energy which means that one is not prepare to respond to opportunity and has not developed a margin of resources to plunge face-first into the cold river of risk.

My analogical anecdote relates to one of my favorite movies, Doctor Zhivago. I imagine the good doctor at the Moscow rail terminus in the cold depth of the Russian winter. He's late, due to revolutionary mayhem, for the train to Paris, that will take him and Anna to freedom and joy. Upon arrival, he sees two trains on opposite sides of the platform - one bound for Paris and the other headed for the permafrost of Siberia. There is no marking on either train. There is no one to ask. He has to choose one or the other or stay behind to surely be shot by the Revolutionary Militia for his association with the bourgeoisie. Left, or right? La Rive Gauche or Smolensk? Both trains begin to leave the station and he hops on one, only to find that it's the wrong train. Too late to turn back, to undo the decision. He was forced to make the choice and the information he needed came far too late. No point jumping off as the other train is long gone and there won't be another. And in Moscow, the NKVD waits to make him an example of their Revolutionary Righteousness.

So, it doesn't matter that the "mistake" was inadvertent. It happened and now all events in the timeline must change as the circumstances have changed. There is no such thing as a time machine, so, we are universally stuck with the outcome of our choices, whether anticipated or not. If change is absent, so too are the choices limited, thus, the opportunity to make mistakes or to be subject to the creation of "unforeseen circumstances" is limited or eliminated.

I have no personal margin or reserve. I've used up even that "emergency" store of fortune, and I don't mean money. I mean the tossing of the dice and coming back with winnings at least 49% of the time, which is time in of itself. But the process of dice-tossing is there, unchanging, throw after throw.

In the past, I operated within the apparent sphere of minimal harm, thus, my mistakes were not amplified and there was support. Now, I operate in a land of extremely aggressive hostility, where my every move is monitored, not only for actual mistakes, but also for near-misses that can be presented as monumental failures or exploited to my detriment. Again, this is not a woe-is-me moment but instead is meant to come to terms with what's real.

I know the following, or I should say that I believe this:

I can't give up the fight. I would rather die than lose. But, if winning in another ground would supplant this loss, I would be satisfied to bide my time and then strike with viciously cold, maximally brutal force. So I must win and I must have revenge and I won't rest until I have both. No, I'm not a Christian, not in any sense. I can't forgive those who don't accept my forgiveness and my contrite admission of my weakness, my humanity. Because savage indifference should be punished and if done to me, I will be the Punisher. I refuse to present the other cheek.

Cheery, huh? Tough sh*t. You may be next.

And so now I execute my Brilliant Plan. I'm going to reach back in my psyops bag of tricks, use every resource I can to maximum benefit and take no prisoners. To paraphrase Beale, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. To further paraphrase Bickel, you talkin' to me? you talkin' to me? You must be talkin' to me cause there ain't nobody else here.

Apologetically and parenthetically I say that I don't ask much because I don't. Forgive me my trespasses and let me move forward. If you want me to keep investing time in you, then make the small changes I ask of you so that I don't have to ask you three times. I'm flexible, but I have to work within my overall plan, as fluid as it may seem to you. I'm taking back my power of choice. The time of compromise is passed. Now I will do, act and say precisely what I mean to get to the ends I need to achieve. This is all bigger than you and me. It's much more than a petty categorization. It's my goddamn life. Dammit.