An Unthinkable Situation

Sometimes, I forget how lucky I am.  The Monkey is basically a great kid with a bright future.  Lambchop loves me unconditionally and constantly.  My family’s dysfunctions are less than most.  I have  a roof over my head, many knives — most of them sharp, an unending supply of good wine, great friends, food trucks to feed me, a garden to be proud of and a pool.  All that’s missing is a baby’s arm holding an apple.  You know what is not on that list?  The ability to think.  I don’t think we should take rational thought and the ability to solve problems for granted.  Most of us do.

I am very fond of the phrase, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and  expecting different results.”  Einstein said that originally, though with different punctuation and one less word.  By that definition, most people are insane.  In truth, they are often not self-aware to my way of thinking.  We often go about our day, doing what we think we need to, without evaluating the results.  Was it good or bad? Did it work? Did I solve a problem or simply hide the symptoms?  Because most of us work, we see the results of others’ efforts and if we choose, we can evaluate those results and those efforts.  But do we?  More often than not, we choose to not make waves and let things go. Its easier.

My line of work requires me to solve problems.  Sometimes they are big problems people see coming and the job is to avoid the issue or prevent the problem.  More often, sadly, someone is asleep at the wheel and I am called into triage the disaster and fix the underlying cause.   The root cause is generally related to  someone thinking at a surface level and ignoring the various implications  of their actions.  Today was one of those occasions.  In its simplest terms, if you put a quart of water in a bucket twice a day, that water is contained and available to you in the bucket.  If you never take any out, one day you’ll try to put some in the bucket and the bucket will overflow; water will puddle and you will slip and fall.  Disaster may ensue.  I don’t  work with buckets.  I work with computers and data.

If you ever watch Rachael Ray, she always throws some salt over her shoulder when she cooks.  It keeps the Kvorka or evil eye or gypsies away.  It’s cute.  It’s her thing.  And you can damn well bet her staff cleans up every day.  Can you imagine if they didn’t?    A mess.  A salt hazard of unimaginable consequence. Danger Will Robinson! Danger!  Yet everyday people we know do things without thinking about what else they need to do.  We are so busy that we can’t see past the immediacy of our current self-made crisis.  Is it too much to ask people to think, just a little more about next steps and implications?

All too often I’m told there is no time to fix past problems.  Put on a band-aid and move on.  I vehemently disagree.  Solve the immediate need and take the care to prevent future episodes.  But no, there is always a new problem that prevents us from remediating the underlying cause.  Until it breaks again.  Then we move into crisis mode one more time.  Its our own version of insanity.

Many people view themselves as good, perhaps even great, thinkers.  More often than not I see people who follow recipes.  They transpose a situation or a problem into one they have lived before and apply the same result.  If nothing substantially new ever enters your  life, you are good.  But what if something new does come at you?  Life is like that.  It really isn’t scripted and it does change.  In college I remember one physics class where the professor taught us concept A, concept B and concept C.  The test didn’t test us on any of those.  It required us to think and synthesize a new concept built on all three concepts.  Most of the class struggled without a recipe and complained the test wasn’t fair – how dare the professor give them Cs.  Life isn’t fair either. I’m lucky that I can see past the bullshit and see underlying issues, actions, inactions and limitations.  I’m glad I know how to think and avoid the insanity so many others unwittingly embrace.

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

     /  May 31, 2012

    I agree with what you said about people never thinking past the first step. It happens more and more and the world is definitely getting worse because of it. Thanks for the spot light.


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