Friday, March 29, 2013


Sometimes you think, "Why bother?"


I don't think it very often.

When I do, it's not a passing thought. The size of the phrase is inversely proportional to the magnitude of emotion it expresses.

A trace-route of the phrase to its source always leads to a sudden change in expectation. The thought is an oxygen mask dropping from some overhead compartment deep in my brain as the ambient air pressure drops below zero and transitions to vacuum.

I'm good with zero expectations. I thrive in situations where expectations are so low that no one is contending for the opportunity to address a challenge lest they get stuck with the blame should they not succeed. The expectations of others have little effect on me other than logistically.

However, there's something about that sudden shift in expectation that leaves me feeling, well, sad.

It's the only time I use the word to describe me.

To be clear, the changes in expectation to which I refer always have to do with people, not situations. I thought not to mention this, but perhaps it isn't obvious. Sudden changes in situational expectation don't have this effect on me (or any effect for that matter).

Nope, the barometric shift that leaves me with "Why bother?" always occurs in my expectations of people.

It's not that I'm a humanist. It's just that sudden changes in expectations of people are so easily avoided. At first they leave me feeling angry, stupid or both (usually both). I feel stupid because there's never a reason for the change to have been sudden; the cues will have been there all along, but I'll have ignored them.

The angry part is largely attributable to the stupid part; I get mad at myself for not having seen and acted upon the obvious. However, it's often exacerbated by the changer of expectation not owning the change, but instead, insisting that he or she is the victim of the change, not the perpetrator thereof.

I know it's not a reasonable motivation to be angry; it's silly, but, nonetheless, anger tends to be my first response.

Both are quickly displaced by denial and a lot of "maybe if I were to...", and then by, "why bother?"

Stupid passes. Anger passes. Then there's just sad.

The sadness is really just the tails of denial as it makes its way round the corner and out of sight.

Once denial is gone, once I've established equilibrium in the new expectation, I'm good to go (or will be in this case.)

I don't know where my experience falls on the spectrum from common to unique; I'm just trying to figure it out by typing.

Pretty soon to be happy Friday,


  1. Tef,

    First, my deep gratitude to you for caring.

    Second, what is a humanist? Wikipedia says "The term humanism can be ambiguously diverse".

    As to where your experience falls in the common-to-unique spectrum, I'd think it's common to anybody who cares even a little bit about anything, but most of us adapt by lowering the caring threshold and/or narrowing what we care about. It would be the unique person that retains the depth & scope of their caring *and* works on kicking anger/denial/sadness faster out of sight.

    1. Sree, thank you.

      Pardon my ambiguity; it was unintentional (at least on my part). In this case, by humanist I meant the automatic ascribing of disproportional significance to phenomena attributable to people versus say, nature or technology.

      As I reread your words, I find myself tearing (another rare experience). I might be too quickly translating your words into what they mean to me; nonetheless, here goes.

      What I often experience as "not giving up on someone" is what others experience as being overbearing or annoying. Someone insists that he can't possibly do something. I see fifty ways that he could. I take his saying that he can't as an indication that he would if he could.

      He pushes back. I follow my assumption and try to do a better job explaining how he could.

      I guess that I'm slowly coming to what will soon seem to be the obvious conclusion that most people say what they want in order to impress people with what they want versus actually trying to achieve it. I guess.

      Sigh... but so what.

    2. There are probably as many reasons for not doing the logical thing as there are hairs in the world, among them:
      - they are afraid to do what they say they want but not to say it
      - they don't believe a possible way exists
      - they cling to a story about why they can't which absolves them of blame
      - they even see it is possible but doing it now would mean they were wrong about it all this time, and they can't bear that.

      I say keep being 'overbearing or annoying'. When you get through, I bet you create results that no other
      overbearing or annoying people ever create.

    3. Sree,
      Thank you!

      Over the past few months, I've embarked on a bunch of new projects that are exciting. I've been meeting and working with people who are quite good at what they do.

      As we converse, I often get excited about the topics and commensurately intense. I'll notice my intensity and stop to check in with everyone just to make sure I'm not being overbearing.

      The other day, one of the guys with whom I'm working said something akin to what you shared in your comment. He cited statistics from several studies suggesting that anyone who accomplishes anything significant will be perceived as overbearing or annoying by at least some significant percentage of people for some time.

      To be clear, the studies didn't suggest that being overbearing or annoying were useful methods, just that they were common side-effects.

  2. Sorry to hear it, who fell off the edge of hope?

  3. Ah... Mark, despite all that others might say, you are indeed a constant.


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