How do I become indispensable?

Earlier tonight I was listening to the gf as she described a few things that weren’t quite optimal, having to do with the communication between higher-ups and some general management of activities where she’s working part-time.

I felt a part of me surge eagerly, wanting to bring up ideas about making the choice to make a difference in our positions, about picking ourselves, about taking steps to become indispensable. I let the surge rise, and pass. My improved social radar hinted that this was a case where my SO wasn’t looking for solutions; she wanted to ‘vent’ or at least have a sympathetic listener. So I listened and felt a few interesting uncomfortable feelings rise up–uncomfortable because as I listened, I felt full of ideas that sounded so useful and beneficial and empowering, and yet I couldn’t escape the reality that I wasn’t yet living those ideas, that I’ve been settling for mediocrity, been taking the easy path of following directions instead of enough initiative, been struggling against myself to live the ideals that I dearly want to be true. I thought a bit about how this felt very much like a writing moment, because it’s helped move my mind to the pensive state that comes perhaps all too seldom. And that brings me to here.

I began listening to the audiobook version of Seth Godin’s Linchpin just today on the drive from work to Hoboken. Familiar Godin themes quickly emerged and I was reminded of just how influential Godin’s ideas have been in changing my mental diet over the last year, and how much, I think, I wanted to live those ideas, to take the steps to do work worth doing, make human connections, make a difference in a world where mediocrity is the too-easy fallback choice for people who haven’t been taught any better.

Listening to Godin talk about the choice to do great work, to be remarkable, I realized keenly that once again, I’d lost my way. Instead of doing great work, I was doing mostly good work, occasionally very good, and sometimes not enough. The motivation and inspiration feels like it’s often missing from my work, and I notice that I end up gravitating towards ‘default’ tasks that I’m responsible for instead of making the time to do and try things to really improve the department/company/product/myself. The idea of being a “linchpin” is in being the person in any organization who is indispensable, who cannot be replaced because no one else can do the great things they do. I buy into what he’s saying; I want to become a linchpin. I want to choose to do great work. And there’s some kind of gap I’m facing between the ideas that have already changed my life, and the fulfillment or perhaps achievement of even more completely changing my habits and mind and lifestyle until I can acknowledge that I’m finally putting in hard work towards the right priorities and making headway.

Another idea bothering me while I’ve been considering how distant I am from being a linchpin at my current position is that I feel like sometimes I’m doing some kind of pursuit of my friends in the grand endeavor to improve ourselves. I wonder if this idea is essentially complaining that “no one’s helping me”. I see that plenty of friends are fine with having fun, and have some degree more difficulty when it comes towards working towards things in life that matter and yet are difficult. I was thinking of how I’ve classically been seen as a more “serious” person in most groups, and I imagine it has to do with how I tend to stay on track and not lose sight of the goal. I have nothing against having fun–so long as it doesn’t detract from the pursuit of our goals. So I think about the last month or so and how it’s so easy to schedule in fun, and how I’ve strayed from my weekly planning process that I’d followed until late July, and how despite my desire for help in achieving my goals and despite a group of people being put together to aid each other in the achievement of our goals, people don’t seem to care, at least not enough to hold each other accountable beyond occasional exercises.

I think I’m disheartened to a degree because it doesn’t bother anyone in our group when we’re not making progress on each of our goals. When I’ve stopped making progress on my goals and no one helps to keep me to it. It looks like despite some of the fun and even useful things we’ve accomplished, we’ve most certainly not internalized a culture of mutual accountability. I appear to have been the driving factor in keeping the group organized and focused; what makes me think this is the litmus test of when my motivation wavers. My motivation has been wavering. And people are okay with that: one friend has attained one of the most important of his goals and is working in pursuit of other things. Another seems partly interested in the group’s cause and partly reluctant to participate. Another is involved but has no real stake in what we do. Perhaps that’s one of the issues–that really, no one here has a stake in what we do. I set a vision, moved us toward it, and when my motivation wavers, things begin to fall apart.

I didn’t intend to write this post to talk about the issues above; this post has gone on too long already about an idea not directly related to what I began writing about. No more for tonight.

late work night

It’s been a pretty long time since a stay-up night like this, much less one that I prepared for by actually napping at 11 PM–usually this would end in what most people call “sleep”, but I’d prepared for that outcome by setting large numbers of alarms, one of which woke me when paired with my father dropping into my room to wonder what the racket was haha.

One wonders how so much work creeps up on you like this; one postulates that this is what happens when one underestimates the amount of time it takes to extract meaning from large collections of data. In this case, my task is to dig through a variety of user survey results to notice trends and such.

I imagine there’s also some small positive correlation between the size of the task at hand and the number of blog posts I write haha, though I’ve been more pensive as of late in general anyway.

I’m sipping on Starbucks Energy (mocha – not paleo!), munching on trail mix (mostly paleo) and softly playing some soundtracks whose aim is to not make me sleepy (rediscovered Amelie OST). Feeling weird temperature-wise–when in light hoodie I get too hot and without it I’m cold. This may be side-effect of being up later than usual.

Anyway, time to get work done–looking forward to the end of the day already.


Saturday was slotted as a day to relax: it was mostly a success haha.


6:00* AM: Slept through two alarms meant to wake me up on time for an early-morning run.
6:20 AM: Woken by accidental-on-purpose call by gf; I don’t think there was any actual conversation–though amusingly enough I don’t fully remember this–but it was enough to get me out of bed and driving to Teaneck.
~6:50 AM: Met drowsy Minru and Iron-Gabe and warmup-jogged over to Votee Park.
7:15 AM: Ran for ~2.6 mi then walked a bunch of cool-down laps while considering plans for rest of day.
10:15 AM: Infiltrated Teaneck Library in search of audiobook on meditation; mission accomplished.
~10:40 AM: Burst onto scene at Palisades Mall. Scoped out the ropes course–opens at 11. Scouted the LEGO Store.
11:05 AM: Tackled the ropes course (Palisades Climb Adventure)! It was more strenuous than anticipated.
12:30 PM: Lunched at Stir Crazy.
~1:30 PM: Raided LEGO Store to acquire serious Star Wars LEGO sets–for the Republic/Empire! For 2013! #thatsnomoon #greatdisturbance #ruhroh #thingsyourbfdoes
1:45 PM: Marched triumphantly back to car carrying massive yellow LEGO store bags.
3:00 PM: Returned immediately to the shipyards at Upper Saddle River to begin construction. Star Wars soundtracks are broadcast to boost morale.

9:15 PM: Cruised to Chipotle to pick up dinner and continue building.
10:20 PM: Received call from gf; plans are made to play some board games at Angela’s.
11:40 PM: Arrived sleepily at New Milford. Played Bezzerwizzer, began to try Dungeon!, then adjourn for the night.

* Times have been recorded as accurately as I remember or as I can tell based off pictures taken.

moral choices

Shortly after arriving at the office this morning, I noticed that the little ants that had previously been swarming my desk (before an exterminator swept the office area a few weeks back) were back in minor force, crawling around one side of my mostly-clean desk.

After a few seconds of consideration, I reluctantly attacked them with napkins and then swept them into my garbage can, silently apologizing for what I imagine might seem to them like an unwarranted act of violence.

I wonder if Nature/the Universe makes any distinction between the value of one life and another, and if by this act of aggression I’ve built up some karmic debt to be paid later.

What bothers me about this situation is that I have no ill will towards these ants, who to my knowledge are just behaving as their nature dictates; and yet, because I am bothered by them on some level, I take hostile action and annihilate them–all because they were just following their instincts.

I’m not overwhelmed with regret but I’m definitely regretful of the fact that I chose to end some lives almost at whim.

Why did I choose that path if I had the sense that I’d regret it? If I’d chosen to leave those ants be–perhaps to use them as another form of practice for getting comfortable with discomfort–where would that have led me? I suppose I won’t know because that wasn’t the decision I made.

And would I be equally as responsible for their deaths if I had notified the office manager, who would’ve called in the exterminator again? Whether the exterminator leaves sticky ant traps or scours the office again, does my share of responsibility change–for it would be I who knowingly makes a choice that likely leads to a dead end for those ants.

Were it so easy as to blame the ants for “making me” do what I did, for “leaving me with no choice”! But denial of responsibility would be a denial of the power we have to choose.

I’ll live with the consequences and see if I can’t choose a more life-friendly option next time something like this happens.

Looking, seeing

On the drive home from Hoboken, I decided I wanted to try and really see everything that I looked at.

So for a few minutes while cruising on stretches of highway, I saw signs that I’d passed by many times and never noticed until then; I saw lampposts that I’d never paid attention to casting light I’d never noticed; and details in stores that I’d always looked over and never caught.

I wondered if this was another part of mindfulness training. That endeavor of really seeing things took a focused, deliberate and definitely not unwelcome effort.

I’d been thinking about Leonardo da Vinci lately–namely, his great skill at drawing and sketching those things that he saw–and on the same line of thought, I remembered reading about his tremendous powers of observation (in the fascinating book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, which I have yet to complete reading and after which I’ll most certainly include among my favorite books).

How much more nuanced the world must seem when one has trained oneself to see! I’d like to get there sooner rather than later; perhaps this can be another small side project that I can work on with interested friends.

Krav Maga 2013-08-08

I’ve been thinking that I ought to keep better track of topics and techniques taught in Krav, as lately I haven’t been writing them down–so for the time being I’ll jot them down here, filed under Krav Maga.

Today’s topics:

  • 360 defense and bursting
  • Defenses against rear naked choke (regular defense, shoulder lock defense and defense once choke has closed)

I will become

Impromptu dinner plans materialized in the afternoon after I learned that a good friend of mine was just going through a breakup after a relationship of three years.

Through the course of conversation, I thought it interesting that while my friend took in the stories and ideas I shared, that I too was benefiting, from the remembrance of lessons learned that formed a part of my personality.

While sharing, I remembered the ideas learned from that fateful Buddhism class that led me to realize that it was okay to feel pain after a relationship–that pain only exists in proportion to how important something is to you. 

I remembered, to move past my guilt and the question of what I could have done, the promise made to myself to become the kind of person I would be proud to know, to become a partner worth having. I realized then that I was the only person I had control over, and thus that I was the one to need to grow.

On the drive home after dinner, I wondered how often I’d lost sight of that goal once I’d pulled myself back to proverbial level ground, years ago. Today’s events were a timely reminder of a good idea I once tried to live by, an idea that became buried but still lived on in spirit.

I will become the kind of person I would be proud to know, as well as being a partner well worth having.

Not biting the hooks

I can see why you weren’t interested in dissecting where miscommunication occurred or in trying to understand what led to our dissent. It’s late, you’re irritated at something that happened earlier with your phone, you didn’t take well to a comment of mine, and maybe more didn’t go right for you.

When is the right time to try to understand?

Having listened to the first of Pema Chödrön’s lectures about finding freedom from destructive emotions on the commute to work today, I was paying unusually close attention to the ebb and flow of my emotions and so I noticed keenly the moments when sparks of anger tried to ignite, the moments when irritation and impatience arose and threatened to color my actions. I thought about not biting the hook, about noticing and allowing those emotions and then trying to use them to understand and be compassionate instead of being irritated, angered, disappointed; my endeavor was to try to be patient instead of being addicted to ‘me’ and all of my troubles. It was an interesting internal struggle. I can see that really applying the audiobook’s ideas is going to be difficult, most especially in the framework of any relationship between people, and I can see that in the great challenge lies the huge potential for development.

We don’t really have to try to understand the source of any miscommunication, or dig into our problems in search of answers, or ask difficult questions of ourselves and of each other, or do the work to make things better.  Then I suppose I’d be living someone else’s life, delegating those things I’m afraid to face and letting life pass by.

If this is to be the reaction to the smaller concerns of daily life, can we expect a different approach when it comes to future challenges like the raising and education of children?