So Wednesday has now come and mostly gone. I could say that something significant happened – that there was some high or low point that distinguished the day. I could say that, but I won’t. That’s mostly because when you stack today up against every other it was probably within spitting distance of perfectly average.
I should probably be celebrating that it wasn’t a crisis every 37 minutes, but the best I can manage is a solid “meh.” Believe me when I tell you that there is no one happier that the wheels didn’t happen to come flying off today than I am. I’m also realist enough to know that just because today was perfectly average and my lunch was not eaten by some unplanned and intensely problematical event, there’s no reason to believe that tomorrow will be more of the same.
Living day to day in a place that manages by whatever happens to be the crisis of the hour, seems to breed a cynicism that’s deep and probably fundamentally unhealthy. It leads the average days to feel like bad ones and the good ones – those days when you walk away feeling like you’ve accomplished something in spite of the system become almost mystically non-existent. They’re spread so far apart that they couldn’t possibly be real, but rather just a figment of our collective imagination.
It was a perfectly average day and should probably be glad of that… but in the back of my mind I’m stuck wondering what fresh hell is gaining strength unseen somewhere in the Land of Tomorrow.
1. Accusations of negativity. I don’t think of myself as a person who dwells on the negative. I certainly recognize that negativity abounds, but I don’t dwell on it. I feel like there may be some that have the impression that I walk around in a black cloud, but I find that to be far from the truth. Just because I find the world to largely be a shitshow, I still manage to take my pleasures where I find them. Cold beer and a dozen steamed crabs on a Friday night? Bliss. The 6AM sun cracking through the leaves and the forest sounds of early morning? Heaven. Quiet night with a good book and two snoring beasts at my feet? Nirvana. The vast majority of my troubles begin and end with people… or rather because I have expectations of people. You might think that my expectations would be low, but the opposite is the case. I have no higher expectations of the man in the street than I have of myself – that the work I perform is mostly right the first time, that when I say something will happen at a given date and time it will happen, or that as a grown adult I know how to behave and speak while indoors or in a public forum. It’s setting the bar higher than “capable of walking slowly while chewing gum” that seems to get me in trouble, because despite relentless disappointment at the hands of the public at large, I still have my expectations and my standard. And those are not up for debate or compromise. So fear not, for what you perceive as negativity is simply a day’s worth of disappointment seeping out of my brain and back out into the universe.
2. When in charge, take charge. The number of people wandering around in the wild incapable or unwilling to make even the simplest of decisions is, quite frankly disturbing on almost every level. Anything from “where do you want to eat tonight” to “what should we do in Syria” seems to be out of the grasp of so very many. I will never promise that I’m going to make all the right decisions all the time, but I will, by God, make a decision based on the best information I have at hand and move out smartly in what I think is the right direction. I’m not the least bit bothered by having to change course when more or better information becomes available… and I’m damned well not going to sit quietly and wait for perfect enlightenment when there are things that need doing.
3. Social media. Social media gives us all a platform to rail against whatever issue is hottest on our minds on any given moment of any given day. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that gives even the lone voice in the wilderness the ability to reach out to the planet in simulcast. Beyond the cat memes and spam bots, it really is a remarkable feat of engineering. That being said, when you take to social media to rant about how other people are using social media I’m not entirely sure you get the point of it being a tool for all of us to express opinions and ideas when they are unpopular – maybe even especially when they are unpopular. From time to time I find it helpful to step back and remind myself that social media is entirely optional. No one is forcing me (or any of us) to use it. When I read something with which I violently disagree I don’t have to engage. In fact, sometimes the most powerful thing I can do is get up, walk away, and terminate the discussion before I give it the power to annoy me further.
Look on the shelves of any grocery store and you’ll see hundreds of boxes touting “new” formulas, updated ingredients, and improved performance. New can be a good thing. Creature of habit though I am, I would never let that stand in the way of any legitimate opportunity for progress.
Today was the first day with our new Uberboss. I’m willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Even if he didn’t mean any of them, they guy was saying most of the right words. He may have just been observing the tried and true forms of the business, but even if that’s the case it’s something I can work with as long as I know that’s the schtick.
The part of me that’s a raging pessimist, of course, realizes new is not always synonymous with “good.” There’s the obvious example of New Coke. Chemical weapons were once the “new” thing on the battlefield. Titanic was a new ship right up to the point where it sank like a stone to the bottom of the Atlantic. There are plenty of examples of times when “new” translated directly into mayhem, chaos, and disaster.
There feels like there should be a requisite reference to The Who here somewhere… but for the moment, any similarities or differences are too hard to spot. It’s certainly new and that certainly means different, but whether it’s improved remains to be seen.
As far as I can tell, there are about 3,572 different and distinct approvals needed in order to get a mortgage. There’s the pre-qualification, the pre-approval, and the tentative approval through the loan officer. From what I’ve gathered in the last thirty days, none of those three types of approval mean a damned thing to anyone. The only kind of approval that matters when it comes time for a six-figure loan is the one from the mortgage underwriter stating all conditions are cleared and the loan is well and truly approved.
The “clear to close” approval is the one I finally got this morning – a whole three days in advance. I feel like it’s a major accomplishment.
The final walk through is scheduled. The seller is preparing to produce receipts for all requested repair work. Closing is set for noon… and my inner paranoid pessimist is screaming out his familiar warning that someone, somewhere will find some way to send this thing hurtling wildly off the rails at the last moment.
I’ll feel infinitely better once I’ve signed away the next 30 years in exchange for a set of keys… or some magic beans. Either way.
Ever have one of those feelings where you’re pretty sure you’re about to do something dumb, but know you’re going to do it anyway? Yeah. That’s what’s on my mind tonight. I’m a smart enough guy to hold my own in most situations, but there are times when even I (and my ginormous ego) know that we’re being outclassed all the way around. It then becomes a question of whether we can step it up and meet the rising challenge, whether we’re going to take the beatdown of a lifetime, or whether it’s better to cut and run. Cutting and running hasn’t really been my style in most things so I’m pretty sure that’s going to be an option. And I’d say there’s a 50-50 chance of either of the other options coming to pass.
I’m not really as pessimistic as that just sounded. In fact, I’m confident that it’s going to be one hell of a ride either way. How long the ride lasts, however, is anyone’s guess. Buckle up, gang. This ought to be fun.
Through most of my life I’ve never been terribly good at managing expectations. Or rather I should say that my expectations tend to swing wildly from puppy dogs and sunshine to the absolute bleakness usually reserved for 19th century poets. And all of this over the span of five minutes. Sure, I’ve learned to mask both of them fairly reasonably, but still, that’s what’s going on behind the scenes. You learn at an early age that if you keep those kind of thoughts in check you can save yourself a good deal of trouble in the long run.
I like black and white, the known versus the unknown. Some people seem to have a natural capacity or even a bit of a love for the unknown. I’m not one of those. It’s strange and different and therefore scary. Far easier to retreat back to the comfort and ease of what we know.
Maybe I’ve chosen comfort and ease for so long that it’s really all I know for certain and it becomes my default setting. Perhaps, it’s time to to move beyond that. I really don’t know how the rest of the world deals with the dichotomy between blind optimism and abject pessimism. If there’s a trick I’ve got to learn it, because swinging from pillar to post is quite simply exhausting.
I’ve never been good at simply being satisfied with things. Even on the best of days, there was some improvement that could be made at the margins. Some people would call that being a pessimist. I prefer to think of it as being a realist, but that’s really just a matter of personal preference.
What do you do when it seems most of the things you wanted have started falling into place? Of course I’m good basking in the glow of things accomplished… for a while… Ultimately, thought, I want to know what’s next. Where’s the next challenge? This one isn’t even behind me yet, but my attention has moved elsewhere. I have a sneaking suspicion that things are not going to unfold exactly as I had them planned out. Not necessarily better, not necessarily worse, just different. I’m not usually alright with that, but perhaps in this case I’ll make an exception.