Been thinking about war, lately. With Memorial Day just past and all the world events (like the legislation that looks like it’s going to pass, giving the President the right to wage wars anywhere in the world without Congressional approval), I’ve been thinking about what place that concepts associated with war have in my daily life.
Apparently, they have had a pretty prominent place in my life. Everything from the corporate environments I work in, which have conference rooms designated as “war rooms” and meetings called “triage” and where onetime National Guard members and former servicemen and -women interact with each other in a hierarchical way, using terminology that has a distinctly military feel to it… to the imagery I use in my everyday life… war is always there.
My neuropsych has taken issue with my referring to interactions as “push-backs” and my daily life as “barrage”, as being decidedly conflict-oriented. But the whole push-back thing is common vernacular in my job, and frankly, with the amount of work that gets thrown my way is pretty much of a barrage. And that’s my experience of it. Having people show up at my desk in an aggressive stance, pushing and threatening… it does tend to be a bit of a barrage. And there’s a lot of it.
My neuropsych is trying to train me to think about these conflicts and interactions in ways that are not battle-oriented. They’re trying to get me to think about my LIFE in ways that are not battle-oriented. I’m not sure how well it’s working out. Sure, I get that it can be more constructive to conceptualize solutions that are mutually beneficial. And that’s generally how I try to orient myself.
But sometimes, things get to be a battle. And there’s no way around it.
Interestingly, I’m finding a lot of comfort in reading military memoirs. Stories of Patton and Montgomery. Accounts of fighter pilots doing the impossible, and military campaigns that went well… or didn’t.
I’m not sure what the attraction is. I’ve never been a very militaristic person, and I do believe that conflict is often an unnecessary distraction from what really needs to get accomplished. I guess it just helps to read about people who have had to overcome serious odds in life-and-death situations, when I feel like I’m surrounded by spoiled, coddled co-workers and family members who can’t manage to do the most basic of things, like do a full day’s work and get out of bed at a reasonable hour.
It just feels like so many people around me are weak and unwilling to work. I tell myself that that’s on them — I get a great deal of satisfaction out of earning what I have and putting in a full day’s (and more) work. It works for me, and I feel a little sorry for people who can’t be bothered with experiencing a little discomfort for long-term gain.
But I rely on people to get my job done and live my life. So being surrounded by people who can’t handle any sort of stress or strain, and who buckle at the first sign of trouble… well, that is troubling.
It’s not like I’m a hard-ass. It’s just been my experience that life will throw a lot of crap at you, and you just have to soldier through and keep going. It’s worked for me over 25 years of being steadily employed, and I have yet to see any other strategy that actually works in the long-term. Sure, focusing on the positive and envisioning the world you want to create is all very well and good. But there’s an awful lot of boring old work involved, too.
And trying to avoid the discomfort of work with mental gymnastics and rationalizations that paint a boring, drab, uncomfortable experience in a positive light, ultimately will fail to produce the kinds of results that actual work will. Because any sort of prolonged success will necessarily demand a level of tolerance for discomfort and boredom and drudgery that sees you through all those hours of effort.
Peace is fine. Peace is nice. But being able to handle yourself in wartime conditions can also come in handy.