Hello Monday, my old friend

Boat on the water with sunrise behind it
What direction am I rowing, anyway?

I’m very different from most people I know, in that — every now and then — I am so relieved it’s Monday. I actually love what I do for work, so that makes it easier to get to work and get moving. Also, there’s a pool at one of the nearby offices, and I love my afternoon swims. I rarely swim for more than 20 minutes. That’s all I really need. But it does me so much good, to step away from my desk and make my way back and forth across the Olympic-sized lanes.

I had a really full weekend, taking care of a bunch of errands that have been needing done, for many months. I just put everything aside on Saturday morning, and dove right in. And by the time all was said and done, I had cleaned out and rearranged a couple of formerly junked-up spaces, cleaned out my car (which was a few weeks overdue), as well as picked up a bookshelf for my spouse, which they have been needing for a while.

And that feels pretty good. I also organized my study a little bit, making more room on my sit-down desk to work. I wasn’t using that old monitor, anyway. It was just taking up space. And the view out my window is now unobscured.

Then, Sunday, I took care of some projects that required extended concentration. I was a little tired from all the running-around, so I welcomed the chance to just sit down and focus on what was in front of me. It took longer than I expected it to (the 2-hour job turned into 3 hours in the morning, and another 2 hours at night), but by the time all was said and done, the result was far better than I’d expected (or have been able to do, at other times).

One really nice thing I’ve been doing, lately, is reading. It feels so great, to be able to read again, after having that disappear for several years. I always loved to read, as a kid, especially adventure stories, nature books, and guides for outdoor living. My favorite book when I was 10 years old was a survival guide, in case you ever decide to move to the wilderness. Instructions for building your own log cabin, snaring rabbits, setting up a fish weir, tanning hides, butchering a deer (or bear), and foraging for nuts and fruits and wild plants you can eat (or use medicinally).

I think I may still have the copy around somewhere (I lifted it from my parents’ house years ago – they weren’t using it).

Now it’s Monday. My boss is away for the week (woo hoo!). That makes me happy, because my boss is a contentious sort of person, and they bring drama with them, wherever they go. They are very politically connected (and disconnected), and they are “on the outs” at work, among people Who Get Things Done. My boss has an excellent eye for picking out potential problems that need to be fixed, but everyone sees them as an obstructor, and someone who isn’t a good team player… when they are really the best type of team player you can ask for — someone who knows where all the “land mines” are while you’re marching across a wide open field, so you can avoid getting blown up.

People where I work don’t like to be cautious. They don’t like to take care, up front. They like to charge forward — full speed ahead. And then they get blown up. And they race around in circles, desperate for a quick fix to their self-made problems.

And while my boss is brilliant in those sorts of assessments, the net result of their position on most everything, is that they’re seen as a “blocker” and someone who just says “NO” to everything. No fun. Not rowing in the same direction as everyone (well, no, when the boats rowing towards the edge of Niagara Falls). And it’s always some drama with them. So, having them away for the week gives me a break from all that.

It will be interesting to see who stops by my cubicle this week, while they’re not around, “to chat”.

In some ways, the week is easier for me to handle than weekends. It’s predictable. And compared to the self-styled rigor of the weekend, it’s pretty laid-back. I did a lot of heavy lifting and moving stuff around, and now I’ve got bruises on my arms. It felt great to be doing heavy lifting on Saturday. Really, really great. Now I need to rest my body and let it recover from the stresses and strains I put it through. That will happen. And a good swim this afternoon will help work out the kinks, as well.

Anyway, there it is. A new week ahead of me… counting down to the corporate merger later this summer… wondering what’s to become of me… along with everyone else I’m working with. I’ll probably write up some stuff for my resume, so I can get it read to GO, should that time come. I’m also scheduling my vacation this fall, so it’s not going to keep me blocked in my current job much past September. I know I don’t want to stay at the new company — it’s notorious for outsourcing work, and also being cheap and not providing good benefits.

It’s also too “old” for me, as I’ve learned over the past year. The division I’m with (which I hear will be kept in place) is full of folks who are my age, or older. When I first started, that was fine, because I was sick and tired of all the “young whipper-snappers” running roughshod over common sense and experience. But now, after being surrounded by people who are just counting the years (or months or days) till retirement, I really see that I need to be surrounded by individuals who are excited about their work, who have vision and the optimism to pursue it, and who aren’t just sitting around, waiting to permanently head out to the golf links.

So, it’s good that I’ve had this year to get a taste of this.

Being surrounded by 50- and 60-somethings is not preferable to being in the midst of “whipper-snappers”, I now realize. It’s not better or worse, just different… and it’s not my preference.

So, all that being said… as usual… Onward!

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The waiting really is the hardest part

And the waves keep washing onto shore...
And the waves keep washing onto shore…

So, it turns out that my group will not be affected directly this round of layoffs. I got the news yesterday afternoon, and I had very mixed emotions.

On the one hand, it’s a huge relief to not have to start my job search again. It’s also a relief not to have a job search hanging over my head during the holidays.

On the other hand, I was looking forward to having some time off and taking a break.

Then again, I guess I get both of the above, because over the coming months, people are going to be pretty checked-out, due to the ongoing merger of our company. The buyer still needs to figure out where we fit in, and who knows where we will end up. The metaphorical sea of management decisions will continue to wash up on our metaphorical shore, and who knows what it will all bring? Metaphorical driftwood? Detritus from past wrecks? Erosion? Metaphorical treasures that have been buried out at sea for a long, long time, only to be washed up onto the beaches of our lives — surprise!

I fully expect that over the coming months, people are going to be in various states of dissolution and departure, as they either dissociate from the trauma of not knowing what’s to come, they go looking for other jobs, and they freeze in the face of not knowing what direction to go.

What’s our motivation for doing what we do, every day? Clearly, that motivation is going to be changing over the next months for a lot of people, since the motivation they have had for many, many years — being a part of a local company that’s made good on the international scene, and tying their identity to that company — is going to change… even disappear… as our employer gets merged into a completely different company. For those people who relate to their job in terms of just keeping the money coming in to support their families, things may not change much… other than a profound existential angst over whether or not they’ll be kept around. That angst is justified.

It can be pretty unnerving for everyone who doesn’t take charge of their own frame of mind and their future. We have no control over what goes on around us, and we have no way of knowing if anything we do actually tips the scales in our favor. For those who are in wait-and-see mode, it’s the worst of all worlds. Because nobody in positions of power is going to tell any of us what’s going on. They can’t. Or things might fall apart.

So, we have to just keep on keeping on.

Or make our own way.

Personally, I’m in the process of making my own way. I’m taking this opportunity to regain my focus on building something independent from my day-job. I’ve got some ideas I am developing, some projects that really bring me a lot of happiness and a sense of purpose.  They’re something that I have control over, and they let me express myself and my own interests, even while I’m “stuck” at a job that’s being run by someone else who doesn’t know I exist, and frankly doesn’t care — insofar as I have nothing to do with them directly, and I can’t do anything significant for them, other than performing my small part in their grand scheme.

Having my own projects relieves me of the resentment I feel about that. It gives me a way to redirect my energy in a positive, productive direction. It takes the pressure off, because it lets me create something of my own, as part of my own unfolding life… not a helpless pawn (as one of my co-workers described us yesterday) at the mercy of management and their schemes. It gets me off the tenderhooks of waiting for management to make up their damn’ minds about what’s to become of us. It lets me take action in ways that matter to me.

Bottom line, I make a lousy pawn.  Truly, I do. I need more than that. I’m capable of more than that. And, in fact, there’s more in store for me… and I don’t find any comfort at all in seeing myself as being too small to matter. None of us should feel that way… although some feel more comfortable with that perspective, for sure.

Anyway, it’s all a work in progress, and when I take the attitude of a student observing what’s going on and learning from it (rather than being a hapless victim of an impersonal universe), things get a lot more tolerable. And it becomes about me making sense of this all, rather than me succumbing to the senselessness of an impersonal cosmos that frankly doesn’t give a damn about me or anything that has to do with me.

I don’t believe in living only in that kind of world. It seems to exist, but beyond that, within my own heart and head, there is so much more.

So, that’s where I’ll look for my next steps.

No more waiting for me. Onward.