Rendered Fat Content


William Blake: Colinet’s Journey:
Milestone Marked LXII Miles to London,
from The Pastorals of Virgil (1821)

"Almost there, but never quite …"

Everyone insists that everyone needs at least one overwhelming, almost infinite aspiration in their life. Well, they actually insist that others need that. For the most part, everyone's pretty much satisfied with aspirations that they can wrap their arms around, for those infinite buggers too easily overwhelm. Our whole essentially reductionist understanding of project management utterly depends upon an ability to chunk infinites into more infinitesimal pieces, then assuming that linear strings of finite activities might somehow expand to satisfy some more infinite need. This does not always prove to be the case. In fact, it might be that this is the rarest of all possible cases and that the normal case cannot be covered by standard project management understanding and its dependence upon finites. The more typical case seems to attempt to muster infinites to produce infinites by a process I might call Asymtoting.

Asymtoting seems more like driving a car in which one cannot quite see over the dashboard or reach the pedals.
By stretching up, one can catch glimpses of the road ahead and by scrunching down, one might manipulate the pedals, but never both at the same time. No steady state ever emerges. One can never quite see the end nor routinely manipulate the elements. The whole operation remains slightly out of reach from beginning to end. If there are milestones, they'll very likely be missed as they zoom past, the so-called driver's attention elsewhere at almost all times. We think of these efforts as projects, but they're more likely something else. We cannot say from anywhere in their middle when or where they might end.

Coping becomes an issue when Asymtoting. How does one remain oriented without the expected markers highlighting their way? Many rely upon faith, and perhaps the blinder the better. Overthinking might become public enemy number one, because an enquiring mind seeks answers which cannot be produced whatever the initiating effort. One must go along, perhaps as flotsam, neither guiding nor guided, just present, and not present in the usual project management future, but present in the ever-shifting present. The effort in front remains most important. Past work, irrelevant. Future work, not yet important. There seems to be no there we're heading toward.

When I first encountered Asymtoting efforts, I thought them poorly managed, for they violated the first principles I used to judge whether something was properly managed. I couldn't quite see their nature, mistaking them for the fiction I'd embraced as my reality, when they could not have possibly been. I've since embraced what I would have then considered a radical perspective. Asymtoting's also allowed, probably necessary for certain sorts of efforts, the ones which prove irreducible by most any means. I scrunch down to reach the pedals. I stretch the other way to glimpse where I'm heading. Another morning comes with a big pot of beans warming in the oven and scaffolding waiting. I'm reasonably certain that I will not finish this work today and tomorrow's also out of the question. I might find myself in one of Virgil's more curious circles of Hell, where I'll just keep working until infinity appears. Or, it could be some undocumented circle of Heaven where I'm destined to pursue my heart's desire without ever once actually possessing it. Almost there, but never quite, Asymtoting my own delight.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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