Tuesday, April 3, 2007

NPR - A few decades apart

I wrote in another column about the reality of choice and a friend's e-mail. Well, another day has passed with the thoughts in the back of my mind rumaging in old memories, here and there, a synapse connection reconnected, and it occurred to me that we were coming from two different models of our perspective. Not our experience, but our view at different ages in our life, mainly a generation apart.

I won't get into the nature of the life change, that's deeply personal, but it occurred to me the difference is between making a life changing decsion in your late 20's versus your late 50's. I don't doubt there are also differences in one's personality and temperament which effects the decision, but I think there is one clear distinction between the two times in our life about decisions. If you're over 50 you understand, and if you're not, I'm sorry, it really is a been there, done that thing.

And what pray tell am I talking about? Simply youthful exuberance to get through something and the wisdom to understand the journey. In our youth we rush to get something done, we pay less attention on the process to get through it as just getting through it and get on with our life. Our interest isn't on what's happening but on what we're doing to get by in life and through the change. It's the wonderfulness of being young knowing it's all in front of us and knowing we can and will succeed.

After a few decades, life has had its chances and turns at us, and we slow up the enthusiasm to focus more on the process than the goals. We've been around the block a few times to know change takes time, patience, perseverance, and all the rest of our resources. So, sometimes we like to watch what's going on as we go. We, hopefully, have a greater understanding of ourselves to know what's real and what's bullshit, and we've learned to address each appropriately along with learning to, as the saying goes, "...accept the things we can't change, the courage to change those we can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

What also caused my reaction to the friend's e-mail? Well, it's that I've always been an organization and process thinker and doer, and to someone who focuses on the priorities, goals and schedules, this (my) perspective can be frustrating. I enjoy understanding the work as we work, asking myself if there are different ways to do something, to learn new methods or techniques, to play and research, and so on. I hate getting a way into something to start over, so I'm often reviewing and evaluating everything.

I explain this to someone as driving to Seattle. What do you think about and do? You can talk about the goal and destination, what you plan to do when you get there. You can enjoy the company of friends or the radio. You can enjoy the scenery. And you can simply driving and listening to the van. I enjoy them all during the one hour drive, but mostly the scenery and the van. I've already thought through the plans when I get there, but I like just being in the moment of driving.

This, however, seems to frustrate some people. I had a boss who hated hearing explanations about the why's, how's and how to's. And sometimes friends, unintentionally, step over the senstivity line with words that cut into the very heart and soul of a person. They do it out of friendship, and sometimes the words are warranted to help, but it doesn't dimish the hurt and pain.

And the problem? Nothing really, except that people shouldn't criticize when we make our choices later in our life with different criteria, and we won't criticize you for focusing too much on the goal. We must not forget the exuberance of our youth while keeping the wisdom of our age.

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