Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Existential Moment

It’s been a week since the disappointing incident at the warehouse. Last Tuesday, the warehouse could not ship the products until 2 pm in the afternoon, barely missing the FedEx trucks going to their usual routes, raising blood pressures all around, support staff scrambling everywhere like headless chickens trying to solve the software glitch, my mind in particular chasing at windmills like Don Quixote but not finding any alternative but to helplessly wait until the issue is fixed. Strangely, I felt alienated in the moment, unable to really panic, but going through the motions of trying to find a solution, not really caring despite the implication of the glitch to the big bosses and their perception of the product, but one did not really care, living in a sort of existential moment, perhaps burned out after having reached an exhaustion plateau where any sort of problem is separate from one’s reality like watching a television show, without considering the implications to one’s future or career. A post-mortem was done and it turns out that a crucial piece of the software was not tested. I found myself in the hot seat but did not really care.

After the post mortem meeting and the perceived fallout, I spent a sleepless night trying to think and see what could have been done differently, turning many scenarios in mind, thoughts churning like a runaway train, rising up the next day with a conviction to strike back. The result was an email, a reply to the post-mortem notes, a meager attempt in trying to save face and point the finger to the managers instead of accepting the responsibility exclusively in one’s shoulders, passing the buck to the big boys, attempting to show one’s brilliant analysis derived from a restive night, but ending in silence, perhaps some embarrassed moments to the other members who read the mail. But one has to move on, attending meetings with the other members, discussing the next move, not mentioning the email at all, trying to function normally instead of raising a ruckus which is what I felt I had to do, to rage like a King of England as portrayed by Peter O’ Toole, but one just eases down slowly in a whimper, agreeing to live a life of mediocrity and quiet normalcy.

Nevertheless, one realizes that it’s a danger to one’s career, this insouciant behavior of not caring; the products were shipped out after all, as one reasons it was a negligible delay despite considerable overtime work, so why the big hoopla, stuff happens as Rumsfeld said on the Iraq fiasco, resulting in more deaths, lost billions and collateral damage, and compared to late shipments its really nothing but the concerns of old men trying to seem relevant in a new age where change is constant. ‘ A revolution is not a dinner party,’ Mao said, so one should keep things in perspective, although this is nowhere near a revolution but a small change in the software, but perhaps a significant variation to the old timers who were using the old software for more than 10 years. But the challenge is mine, too. It’s moving down the wire; walking a tightrope, not in the problems of the software application but in one’s mental state; perhaps solving too many production problems has taken its toll, trying to bury the stress with alcohol and movies and indulgence to porn violence like ‘The Walking Dead with body parts exploding in blood and gore.

One does exercise to handle the stress, sticking to the new mantra of achieving 150 minutes of activity every week, adding an hour and a half of yoga during the weekend, and capping off the day with Bloody Mary, vodka martini, whiskey on the rocks or red wine, eating pork rinds, olives and peppers as an appetizer while drinking the lovely cocktails, reading articles in one’s tablet and watching French videos. This is modern life, handling stress with exercise, alcohol and high technology; a potent mix that keeps mental energies at a seemingly tip toe shape, but away from the peace and serenity which is the true salvation, gulping down vitamins and medicines to keep the body running, relying on chemical substances to lubricate the whole mind body equilibrium; vodka for stress, melatonin for sleep, fish oil for cholesterol and mental acuity, books and movies for mental cognition and exercise to keep fit. But the mind must stop or lose the relevance and spiritual saneness that is the real nirvana, not a mind numbing existence seduced by the high life, sophisticated equipment and constant stimulation.

My son is going to college next year, looking for a place to stay, although the university is only 2 hours away, a seminal change, the arc of one’s life ready to achieve a trajectory, a harbinger of new beginnings as my other son also goes his own way. The arguments and the stress, the dis-agreements and the endless discussions will go away and only the memories will remain, maybe not as melodramatic as I make it sound, like words from a sentimental old fool, but a doorway to another life as well, with another house perhaps in a major city, where prospects for employment are better and where one must achieve the destiny he thinks still exists in the future; this is the only event that excites me, not the travails at the office, where one tries to make himself understood, trying to understand the others in return; the idiosyncrasies, the hidden agendas, the small thinking and small mind sets of the project members, all scrambling to find meaning in their lives. But life goes on and one cherishes the small moments with their children, moving forward in their own lives while one tries to make sense of the new realities. Life is the true revolution.

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