(In/Co)Dependence

The PondWet season in Trinidad. The grass has overgrown, the cassava risen taller than me in some places, shorter than me in others. The road progresses despite challenges, materials coming from a sandblasting company that needs a place to put it – my road will eventually benefit, but not right now. It’s all dependent on the weather, and for the last few weeks I’ve been paralyzed.

Yesterday, the sun finally came out and I went for the wayward center of the cassava and papaya (paw paw) to spray, disentangling the crops and other trees from weeds – pushing back against the inevitable march of a tropical climate.

Even with my experience and Artsy (a Ford Ranger I so named), there are places I don’t go in Wet Season – the valley almost completely off limits for someone who doesn’t know where to put the tires, and even then not casually. The wayward excavator that had pulled out the hog plum tree from the pond had created it’s own drain, a tribute to no one else doing anything on my land without my presence, making the area around the pond an unnecessary quagmire in wet season.

The sand dropped on the road despite my saying not to drop it on the road further underlines the need for my presence when people come to do things on my land. It’s a silent rage that steers me when I see these things, a thought of how people don’t think before they do things, of how people don’t listen to directions.

And yesterday, driving over the pile of sand an idiot driver left at the top of my drive, compressing it slowly as I drive in and out every time, I managed – of all places – to get stuck. I laughed, immediately grabbing my spade from the back of the pickup, and began shoveling Artsy out of the sand. In it’s own way, the sand pile does something for me – and me getting stuck was something I expected at some point – the tires on the pickup are for mud, not sand. Having just sprayed weedicide, I didn’t want to handle the camera so there are no pictures of this.

A half hour of shoveling at least showed me the problem. The weight of the pickup was on the sand around the center of the chassis, the right side of the pickup unable to get purchase with its tires. A break; the sun had come out completely, a phone call to someone who might be able to help with a tractor – useless. As usual, this person was telling me what they couldn’t do instead of what they could. Back to shoveling.

Another break. I looked across where I knew another tractor was, but they are related to the people who had built a house on my land without permission and who said they were going to buy but instead decided to continue working on their mansion – swimming pool included – instead of begin paying for the land, and had the gall to complain about a price 1/8th of the market value. Next year it goes to 1/4. I would see no help there, even with the best relationship, such help would be seen as a betrayal of family.

I laughed.  No doubt someone over there was watching. A few more phone calls. More people telling me what they couldn’t do instead of what they could do. Here I was, the dependable person surrounded by undependables. Another call, an offer to call someone else… I could chase that ball of twine like a kitten, but all that happens when you chase a ball of twine is you get twine.

Shovel. Shovel. Shovel. Stones, wood, under the tire. No purchase yet. Break. Shovel, shovel, shovel. Purchase. 2 hours and elbow grease got me free of my dilemma, not a soul having lifted a finger despite calls – an array of platitudes, explanations… but no actual action except a promise of one I explicitly asked for, from the one person who doesn’t let me down when I need it but who was in a tight spot.

With the rear tires on top of the pile of sand, I laughed. Once again, I solved my own problem, once again, I had negotiated a compromise with the land – an inanimate object that I could depend on as opposed to all the bipeds I could call. Understanding it and basic physics had gotten me out. Not the winch I didn’t get just the day before. A cutlass, a spade, and grit.

All someone really has, all someone can really depend on, is themselves – a lesson learned in childhood, a lesson re-emphasized more than once, a strength gained by pulling dead weight, a determination forged in heat and tempered in extremes.

And by getting out, I know that they all think now in the back of their heads that they don’t need to help should I call. That I will find my way as I always do while they cannot, that they call upon me when they have a problem because I am dependable – and maybe, just maybe, my dependability ruins their dependability, making them dependent and weak when I need them.

I should work on that.

The Moon’s Night

International Observe the Moon Night 2017We see each other

Living our own lives,

Our own orbits all we know

Our rotations all we know

And yet all we know of others

Is the side we see

As they go through their own orbits,

Twist on their axes

And judge us the same way.

…..
….

..
.

Judged by the darkest night or the brightest day
Neither is true between tomorrow
And yesterday. 

Ugly

UglyWe live in an ugly world. Oh, you can sing me the praises of this place or that, this person or that, but we know that those are increasingly minorities, and that much we see as beauty is easily scratched through.

We seek beauty, the beauty that appeals to us.

We are told as children that the world is a fair place, that we should share, that we should be kind, and that we should think of others – but somehow, in such a world where all of that is taught to children all over as rote – somehow, that isn’t the world we live in. We live in a world of quiet isolation, whether surrounded by people or not, our inner values a stark contrast to the world around us.

Some of us become ugly. Some of us meet parts of ourselves that are ugly. Is it ugly? Is it that we were taught that it was ugly? Why do we think it is ugly? Sometimes it simply is what it is; the person who revels in nature loses their mind when they step in shit. Irony. Ugly.

So we grow up, and come of age fighting with our inner values and the values that the world shows us. We all find some beauty somewhere to treasure, but around us all is ugly.

Even marketing makes ugly common enough where we think it is beauty when it isn’t. It finds what we can’t look away from and mistakes it for beauty, then to keep our eyes for selling ugly things, or things to become ugly, it makes us think everyone thinks it is.

Maybe we should be teaching children not that the world is a place of magic and beauty, but instead that it is a scary and ugly place filled with people who do not care about us – and that way, the magic of true beauty will be that much more appealing.

Social Networks: Having Vs. Being

Erich Fromm for PIFALI wrote a bit about being an introvert and building a social network of value in response to John Hagel’s post about measuring you’re real net worth.

There is, of course, more to it than what I wrote. To me, it revolves around two major things: Form vs. Function and Having vs. Being.

Speaking for myself, I’m a big fan of function over form – and being instead of having. These are two philosophical distinctions that separate me from what seems to be mainstream from my perspective.

Function Over Form

I have a 4×4 pickup that is set up for going offroad, but not with anything extraneous: What is there is there to meet a purpose, no more and no less. In my mind, anything but that is inefficient and wasteful. If I lifted the pickup higher, it would be unmanageable cornering on the roads – and would put the center of gravity much higher than I would want it given the hills I navigate in the bush on my land. I do not have more aggressive tires because they would be a liability on the road – but I do not have less aggressive tires because they would be a liability in the mud on my land. There’s a balance. And the vehicle is usually dirty to some extent, but always functionally sound. I am completely about function.

In contrast, I know someone with a 4×4, all white, street tires and just about every piece of plastic bolt on product you could find on his vehicle. He washes this pickup so often I’m surprised he hasn’t rubbed the paint off of it yet. He’s all about… form.

When it comes to my networks, I’m not a namedropper, and I don’t care who else someone knows or how famous they are or aren’t. I do not value people in my network based on what other people value them as – that, to me, is form. Instead, I care about what the people themselves have to offer of themselves, as well as their own expectations.

This is an intrinsic part of network building, where the mainstream – those more interested in popularity (form) are less interested in understanding (at least in my mind) and therefore truths (function).

I choose function every time.

Having vs. Being

I don’t ‘have’ connections in the way that social networks deliver their networks. I don’t count them, I do not see them as scalar quantities – I see them as vectors, as matrices of humanity that I connect to. I do not have them just as I do not have slaves; I exist with them.

This is in contrast to those that count their success by metrics, typically scalar, and these metrics are easily gamed by the echo chambers of social media where like minds rise in chorus even with bad voices and bad tunes – and, honestly, some reprehensible lyrics.

The Downside.

The downside of not having an echo chamber is that you don’t have an echo chamber. People don’t repost things you might offer, they don’t necessarily spread what you wish to spread – and I see this largely as a good thing with unfortunate consequences while in an open system where people do have echo chambers that can drown out individual voices.

So you’re likely not going to become popular this way. If you do become popular this way, it means that you are truly appreciated as opposed to not truly appreciated.

And this all revolves around what you actually value.

Respect, Trust

RespectWe know a few things about respect: it has to be earned and it’s hard to get back when lost. This parallels trust – trust and respect go hand in hand this way.

Can you trust someone you don’t respect? Can you respect someone you don’t trust? There is nuance in there beyond the black and white responses, the default ‘no’ we are taught as children.

We can trust someone we do not respect to do what is in their ‘nature’. In fact, some even expect it of them: A simple label can conjure up images of what such a person is or might do based on what they have done. That label and ‘trust’ is what builds out our negative prejudices (yes, there are good prejudices as well). Feminists often make the case that simply being a woman means that they are ‘trusted’ to be certain *things*, objectified in their own way. Black Live Matters makes a similar case about people of African descent (paying lip service to other minorities), Blue Lives Matter makes a similar case about police. We trust for better and worse that people will act in certain ways based on other things in common.

It should scare people slightly that this is how we write our software that analyzes data as well.

But there are good things about such stereotypes, too. We are more friendly with certain people, more comfortable around certain people where we blend in well. Those of lesser pallor will quite obviously feel more comfortable with those of their pallor, and those of greater pallor the same. People who wear jeans are more comfortable around those that wear jeans, those in suits feel more comfortable around people of business attire.

The problem isn’t respect as much as it is trust. It’s what we trust others to do that is the problem, our brains evolved for survival in a planet that we have become dominant over except in a few special cases.

So the next time you distrust someone – which is just trust in a different direction (for the nerds, it’s a vector instead of a scalar) – take a moment and allow that trust to change.

Or don’t and submit yourself to the status quo.

Entropy

Trigonomorphose toroïdale de l’illusion centripète de l’Être à travers l'n-sphère de l’in-formation centrifuge de l’Entre actualisant une ligne-de-fuite dans les linéaments virtuels de la Voie (dào) entrouverte par le Souffle (qì) du Vide Médian (taìjítú)Things fall apart.

Things come together.

We call this entropy when we don’t understand how or why, a derivative of our inability to predict things that happen. When good things happen, people call it serendipity. When bad things happen, people call it bad luck.

All that entropy is… is a failure for us to understand encapsulated in a word that allows us to put it outside of ourselves and blame.

There is no entropy. There is no serendipity. Everything happens in it’s own time.

Alone

Sunrise AloneYou can ignore being alone through the hard times, pushing forward out of sheer force of will – because that’s sometimes what it takes: grit, determination and tenacity coupled with strategy, observation, constant adjustments… it soon becomes a place where people do not tread because there’s simply too much to explain.

How many times have I been deep in thought, with what some people mistake as an angry face when instead it’s a face of focus? And they think I won’t let them in when the reality is that if I let it out, I’ll spend so much time explaining things that everyone will get frustrated? I am certain I am not alone in that.

The point is you get used to that, living in the simulation of reality in your head with as much data as you can possibly absorb and derive. And in these castles in the mind, you don’t realize you’re alone.

Until you have a victory. And then you look around and realize no one is there.

So you go after the next problem.