A coping tool in trying times
January 11, 2010 11 Comments
As per my previous post, there is some chaos in my current environment that is not promoting well-being and peace on Earth between the various factions on site. Absolute madness ruled for one full 24 hour cycle, and many things and situations that were earlier taken for granted and assumed as being standardized are having to be internally re-evaluated so as to allow for me to just be able to function. You see, unlike the current belief held by pretty much friend, family, and foe alike, I am not and have never been a person that is made of pure slag iron, and have never once assumed that I was in any way impervious to things that move at high velocity or have sharp pointy bits.
-Hell, I am actually afraid of heights. Not the mind-numbing version of pure terror and phobia, but one that leaks that small trickle of cold sweat down the lower part of the spine if I am above about 15 feet from the earth.
This kind of fear is something that I know the basis of and can overcome, and have done so on such numerous occasions that the standard assumption (there is that word again) is that I not only do NOT have an inherent, irrational fear of participating in being at height, but actually crave it in some way. The way that I overcome it is that I know what causes this fear, I know the root cause. The greatest thing about knowing the root cause or mentality dictating an event that you are either predicting to participate in or are currently doing so is that when you get to the root cause of said activity you are now in possession of the most epically-important answer to a solidly-fundamental question…
–And can now come from a position of advantage, a position of empowerment.
Armed with this data you can literally conquer anything, from trying environments to fear-inducing activities, because (well, for me) knowing the “why” circumvents the fear of the unknown. This is the tool that I use to be able to function in the crazy places that I have worked in and visited, because by discovering the fundamental “why” behind a place or group gives you a cultural edge as you are now able to somewhat predict the responses of the culture or people. Inviting a muslim over for dinner and you want to impress them? -Bar-b-que some mutton and lamb and serve paratta flat bread, followed with some sheesha smoking. Want to impress a brit? -Cook up some shepard’s pie (recipe available on the intertubes of course), serve it with a stout beer that has about 1/5 of the glass as pure head, and polish up on the current goings-on of Manchester United. Once you start trying to find out the “why” of everything that you participate in I can tell you that it not only gets easier to do, to see the “why” in the things that surround you, but for me at least life just gets easier.
…And now we get to this place.
There… there truly is no “why” to this place. Attempting to just come up with basic models of the reasoning behind the local indigenous worker’s actions is literally an exercise in futility, and I won’t bore you with the details of the different processes that I went through to come to this conclusion. Let’s just say that I have never seen a people that had such little belief in tomorrow, internally knew that they have two distinct ways of acting within them that have nothing to do with the words “noble” nor “savage”, and generally just exist for no other reason than to exist. No goals, no aspirations outside of what they can take, and no sense of creativity or wonder. It is a frightening thing when none of these BASIC ELEMENTS are evident within a society, as (in my interpretation) these are the keys to forward motion and true evolution of a group and something that just makes a human… well, human.
I guess what I am trying to say is that this place, even out of all of the other civilizations, cultures, et cetera that I have been exposed to…. this one is the most alien.
No that I have hopefully firmly established that a tool that I use and have used for quite some time to handle activities and areas much like this one is just not effective at this time. As this previous method is not effective in this place, I have had to brush off another in my bandoleer that worked really well the first time that I was in the Mid East as a snot-nosed punk 19 year old.
It’s quite a simple one actually, and comes with virtually no thought.
The only explanation that I have for this method is that if the human environment around you gets to the overwhelming stage, there is always one place that you can turn to that has no qualms as to what it is and no hidden agenda, and that is the local physical / natural environment. I am talking about the plants, the wildlife, even the sky. Hell, it could (in the case of Dubai) be architecture. Each environment also holds some points of note that also help you identify some of the basic undercurrents of thought of the persons that inhabit it. The desert for me held just a raw, powerful beauty to it; one that invited no quarter and was not expected to give it, but had sunsets that would take your breath away. In Thailand the jungle was full of variety and color, and the rains were a thing to behold.
Here…. well, the sky is a theatre of activity, and always shows you something new.
The swamps here are just too full of poisonous animals and plant life to be of any use in this exercise.
-And with that now in place I think I’ll be fine.
(Post somewhat inspired by this picture over at Andy’s. You really know how to do those sunsets bud.)