My mind is a bit mushy this week, a bit disoriented from the Houston trip the week before, perhaps tired from addressing the challenges faced on site, finally recognizing the many trials overcome in the preceding weeks, when a disaster occurred in the first week of the month, potentially fatal to the project but nonetheless allowed to continue, the mind finally catching up to the abuse received by the psyche. One soldiers on, working on documents and deliverables, submitting papers for review last Monday, to get another project to the next milestone, doing the same thing weeks earlier before the Houston trip, solving issues and writing papers, all thoughts swirling in a common mental mass, achieving most objectives without floundering, perhaps a tribute to exercise or meditation or self-reflection or cocktails, surviving with episodes of bewilderment, attending meetings and engaging in conversation without serious thought, stringing fleeting ideas to make the dialogue sensible, just succeeding until the end of the day when one thankfully goes home.
The Houston trip was supposed to be a week of rest, a routine installation and training, but not everything goes according to plan, bringing loads of stuff to read - newspapers, magazines, audio book, but having no time to really read them, with distractions from television and the Internet, one planned to just lie in bed and passively watch TV in the motel room, instead trying to catch up on one’s reading, a self-inflicted mental punishment, coupled with the problems in deployment, thankfully relieved with a good lunch and dinner, thankfully with Samuel Adams beer. One just moves along, surviving the days and weeks with its constant pressures, seeking relief in abuse, the mind drawn to thoughts of buying a bigger house or writing a book and doing all sorts of things, unintentionally placing a burden on oneself, until the body and mind says enough is enough, so moments of mental confusion come, ‘now what do I have to do now’, signs of a senior moment or the coming onslaught of Alzheimer, wishing the cocktail hour is coming soon.
Thankfully its Thanksgiving week with 2 days of no work coupled with the weekend, having 4 days total of vacation, plans to kick back and relax, watch movies and cook turkey, having some liquid refreshments to ease the mind, go to the gym to run and swim, sleep more and try different things, perhaps it’s the right time after all to have done the Houston trip with the anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday, a welcome respite to rest one’s mental wounds, to recover one’s equilibrium and prepare for the next test. Soon one realizes that one’s trials are self-inflicted, the mind needs to be silenced, the spirit and will settled to a serene level, with the goal to reach one’s true calling, instead of being distracted to deferring avenues, the mind like a sick machine or unthinking animal, just working to satisfy one’s base urges, a strange affliction to constantly read, see and experience new things, the mind filling up with stimuli. The strategy then is to let the thoughts fly by, without allowing to land and settle on the mind, instead moving like water as the brainwaves becomes like the wind, only important facts settling in.
Visual thinking is a learning strategy, a technique that allowed one to leap forward in understanding new concepts, nowadays no longer used as the process seem to be ingrained, one doesn’t dwell in ideas but do the required act instead – be a man of action. Visual tools were previously used to fix mental fatigue, now much needed but unexploited, perhaps due to the onslaught of more stimuli. Rest and recreation, taking stock of the situation, using visual thinking tools seem to be beneficial during periods of reflection, perhaps the answer to the current feeling of malaise. What is the source of this feeling? One feels that one has crossed a threshold with the Houston trip, a realization that the product works well when the team has adequately prepared, but bringing up questions of the team’s ability or maturity, explained by the change in project personnel, but one thinks the previous shortcomings is due to one’s poor performance, unconsciously accepting blame, thereby bringing stress to oneself. But it is a team effort after all, despite the central or significant role that one plays, one must not accept full blame in times of failure, glad that more people have stepped-up, reliving the pressure with more skin in the game, but is it enough to condone past blunders?, where one is in the firing line, one thinks that one is not responsible but the overall boss of the project.
Perhaps that’s the relevance of Thanksgiving – to thank the boss and the powers that be, that one still has his job, perhaps narrowly avoiding being fired, thankful that all things worked well despite many constraints, living another day and accepting one’s shortcomings. Thankful one has survived the day’s trials, fighting one‘s mental demons, surviving the weeks and eventually the months and the finally the years. I guess the early pilgrims experienced more hardships, crossing the ocean and starting from scratch, surviving Indian raids and Old World prejudice and superstitions. One’s circumstance seem trivial when compared to the trials of the past, despite the seeming rush to deployment, the constant delays, the fear of having the project stopped, of not living to expectations, the disappointments of one’s fellow members, striving to be good but only managing a mediocre performance. Hence, thankful of living a normal life without the imagined disasters that never come, living to fight another day, hopefully more wiser than before, with less baggage and less illusions.