Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Friday, February 18, 2011

Best Laid Plans Meet History-Making Occurrences

My elephant is in revolt today.  

It has thrown off my rider, who sits dazed, in the dust, wondering what happened.  And the pachyderm has plunked itself down right beside her, refusing to budge.

If you read my earlier post on the work of the Heath brothers, Dan and Chip, and specifically their book Switch:  How to Change Things When Change is Hard--or if you found your way to their thoughts on your own--you may recognize the elephant and rider metaphor they borrowed from Jonathan Haidt (The Happiness Hypothesis).  The elephant, you'll recall, represents our emotional self and the rider our rational side.  And these two have to have a workable arrangement if we are to move forward, or in any intended direction, for that matter.

Watching in a somewhat--okay, a completely--obsessive state the various dramas unfolding around me these past days, at the state, national and international levels, I am left wondering about the sense of following my little plans, or even my relatively grander ones.  Events, it seems, defeats, changes, and even accomplishments can come flying in from left field.  

I suppose I feel a little like I remember feeling many years ago after viewing a documentary in my then-husband's astronomy class.  The film took the viewer from the vastness of deep space, with its black holes, red dwarfs and quarks, to the microscopic worlds of cell life, and micro organisms.  The photography was breathtaking.  And at the end, I experienced something like a case of the psychological bends.  I felt simultaneously infinitesimal and insignificant, and planetary and profound.  It was dizzying.

And I wasn't sure if it mattered if I roused myself to leave the seat from which I had watched the hour-long spectacle.  Ever.  But I did.

I assume that my elephant and rider will eventually patch things up.  They usually do.  In the meantime, I'm in the wind, following the current.  This evening, I was blown to the streets, to yell myself hoarse about "what democracy looks like," while the literal wind whipped my face, and my sign about trampling on workers smacked me in the head more than once.

Tomorrow, I will be in Madison.  And after that?  It seems we are all subject to forces we can't foresee.

Later, for our plans.

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