January 2018

TheProjectWithinTheProject

MasonicEyeOfProvidence
"Nobody can really achieve apathy
except when in pursuit of someone else's goals."

By far the most important element of every project turns out to not be the advertised objective of the project, but what I call The Project Within The Project. While the public pronouncements promote this or that feature or that or this other innovation, the real project, The Project Within The Project, looks on unimpressed. The PWTP wonders what's in it for him. He's searching for a premise to use this project assignment to assist him in his pursuit of some personally compelling goal or purpose. No matter how lofty the outside project's objective, it won't motivate much more than a half bucket of warm drool unless the people assigned manage to find their very own personal Project Within That Project.

Outside projects typically expend remarkably little energy encouraging individual contributors to find their personal PWTPs, though the outside project's success might most depend upon realizing this.

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TheGravityProblem

gravity
"Airplanes fail constantly, but usually fail less than they compensate for their failures,
and thereby succeed …"

The axiom that failure starts with the first step probably serves as the oldest comment ever made about project work. Since the beginning, successions of clever practitioners have proposed methods for ensuring that their project will not repeat this most ancient of axioms, each without success. I, too, in my turn, took up with one, then another, and then yet another philosopher promising to deliver the antidote for this feature of project work. I now believe that the problem implied by this timeless insight fails to qualify as a problem at all. I consider it a feature, and as such, should properly remain unsolvable. Solutions belong to problems, not features.

I don't mean to imply that I've grown cynical from following false prophets

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Leaving

exit-leaving
" …it will certainly first feel like some terrible shrinking."

The Muse and I are preparing to leave for a few weeks. The list of preparatory tasks seems to grow as the departure time approaches. I'm at the stage of life where leaving carries little attraction. I'd just as soon stay behind while The Muse travels, and receive updates from her at the front while hanging far behind the lines. She insists, though, that I get out into the world. She says that things happen when I'm out there, and I cannot disagree. Things do happen when I leave the safe confines.

The days before departure feel like grieving.

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ThinSlices

Thin-Slices-of-Behavior
" … like ThinSlices of impermanence drawn prism-like through space."

This morning seems composed of thin slices slightly shimmering in the rising sunlight. The eucalyptus tree below my window takes on an etherial and impermanent look, glimmering as if on the very edge of disappearing altogether into some adjacent place. Time seems like narrow vertical wafers through which stuff moves like light cast through a prism. Color, shape, size, even weight seem to derive from an optical-like projection, easily shifted by sleight changes of perspective. The time we inhabit also inhabits us, and might slip away from any of us without any advance notice. One minute here and another minute somewhere else, a sort of mist separating one from the other, prior from present, present from next.

Permanence holds no place here.

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Archtypicality

vanity
"Hooray for me, whoever that might be."

In this culture, in my culture, we describe individuals by associating each with one of a small number of exemplar descriptions, so-called archetypes. These comparisons don't even try to determine an individual's uniquenesses, but first attempt to classify according to some similarity, what they're like or not like. The sum of the resulting similarities stands in for an individual's description, their brand, even their identity. Failing to fit into some easily recognizable archtypicality earns one the default label of "oddball," which means unclassifiable, an unbranded range animal without clear social identity.

Billions of individuals vie for this sort of social definition, each selecting from a tiny few exemplar patterns.

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Gratitude

catch
“Exactly the pitch called for at the time.”

Today, I offer heartfelt prayers of gratitude for all my previously unanswered prayers. I hold no certainty that these fresh prayers will be answered, especially since I have no idea how I’d determine if they had been answered. I remain grateful for all of my unanswered prayers, whether or not I can accurately target my benefactor. This solo dialogue quiets my spirit. My confession, even as gratitude, lightens my heart. For all the times that the good guys failed to show up near the end of the third reel, I feel gratefully humbled. For the papers from the bank, lost for months in the mail or their bureaucracy, so passionately sought after but never found, I give thanks. I’m not certain who posted the casting calls for which angels never responded, but I’ll slip in a thanks to them, too.

The primary problem with prayers seems to be the same as the difficulty with customer specification wish lists.

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EulogyIII

thereof

This weekend, friends will gather to celebrate our dear departed friend III's (pronounced "Three's") life. My eulogy:

Viennese Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein attempted to define, in seven dense statements, what one can say to be true about this world. As part of the group that delineated the unforgiving terms of engagement in the Boolean computer age, Ludwig helped determine exactly what III spent much of his life enforcing. More than anyone I ever met, he attempted to police that narrow, mysterious territory between what we desire our machines to do for us and what we as humans could reasonably expect our machines to do. Deeply understanding this man/machine interface, III mostly chose to avoid personally relying overmuch upon machines to deliver him from even tedium. He seemed to deeply mistrust the most modern technologies, and perhaps wisely so.

He owned no smart phone.

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Youdentity

youdentity
"In this season, I even feel unskilled at self-deception."

By the last week of January, anyone should be excused for having somehow lost addressability to who they are or even who they used to be. The weather turned skitzy more than a month before, swapping identities day to day. Shorts one day, heavy boots the next. Ordinary times slip into full festal ones then back again. Bacchanal celebrations dance the hokey-pokey with solemn religious ones. The sacred expresses itself with venial exchanges. Smugness snuggles with humility. Darkness wrestles for dominion with light. Candles curse the darkness. Darkness mumbles invective against the light. Plenty seems to placate the barren scrubland that was once my well-tended garden.

By the end of January, I'm running on vague promises.

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Time-ish

time-ish

"Time seems altogether too unreliable of a regulator. "

I'm always astounded when I consider that time moves at a constant pace, a sleepless, silent drummer setting the background rhythm for everyone's existence. The same for you as for me. The same for Rose The Skittish Spinster Cat as for The Muse. The same for the Queen of England as for the panhandler along the freeway exit. I do not experience time as such a dependable regulator. Some days seem to crawl while others sprint. I've spent fortnight-long afternoons and split-second months. Some nights seem endless while others hardly find a moment to wink in passing. I figure this variation must be about me, if time exclusively runs regularly.

I don't seem to run that irregularly.

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