Thoughts of the day
Interesting reading on organization-building: Global Guerillas post Tribes! and GIGAOM post Pixar’s Brad Bird on Fostering Innovation.
I finally read Ed Lin's Waylaid. As it turns out, Waylaid's Peter is not at all like The Motel's Ernest, other than both are Chinese-American tweenage boys (I don't know if Ernest is, like Peter, Taiwanese-American). Where Ernest is pathetic and hopeless, Peter is dangerous but trapped. There is an authentic layer of Chinese-American male perspective, but that's not the core of the story. Peter reminds most of Catcher in the Rye's Holden Caulfield. Peter is a self-centered sociopath who's smart, capable, responsible (but not ethical), nihilistic, violent, aggressive, and in turns, savage and cunning. The world, as experienced by a jaded, bitter Peter, doesn't deserve better than he treats it. Though only 12, Peter is singularly driven by his desire to "fuck" and triumphs with the object of his lust, a classmate.
The soft "But then we wouldn't have met" . . . asking to return with me to K-16 on the bus . . . her nervous hesitant confession that she smokes when she feels stressed and my relief because I was afraid she was going to tell me she had a boyfriend (later, after we went bad, she'd smoke when she was with me) . . . particular moments that made me believe she felt about me the same way I felt about her. Instead, I was wrong and what I feared from her rejection has borne out. How different would my life be had I been right and she had chosen us? Would Traci have saved me, or did her rejection avoid a more traumatic failure?
When my life seems to be going well, I don't dream or at least I don't dream anything that leaves an impression. When I'm feeling anxiety and depression, however, I have vivid dreams. I don't remember the details, but they leave an impression. Lately, I've been dreaming a lot about receiving opportunities and my failure with them due to irrecoverably flawed programming. The reality is, I've received more than my share of opportunities and done nothing with them. At what point do they simply run out? At what point do I admit and accept what my dreams are telling me?
When I was hired, I planned to stay on one year, two years maximum, in my first job out of college. What I'm doing now, while interesting in its own right, not unlike my military experience, doesn't transition into any long-term plan. I've moved past the 1.5 year mark on the job, but as yet, I've made no move to leave, either to another job or grad school. The current economic and jobs climate has made me ambivalent about leaving; I tell myself, at least I have a secure job, and after some interpersonal bumpiness, I've hit my stride. I can coast. The real problem is that I'm no less "listless" - or shiftless - now than when I met with the Brigade TAC at West Point. I'm blowing past life checkpoints at an alarming speed and I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.
Right now, I'm a disillusioned pessimistic idealist. People, both individually and as a social mass, have disappointed me. I doubt they're worth a selfless sacrifice. So, another problem is, when I think of the areas that are more interesting, I also think, what difference will it make? And even if trying might make a difference, I'm not convinced I have what it takes to make the difference.
"Lethality" literally means deadliness, but that's not how I mean it when I say it as a state of being. As a metaphor, I think of lethality as effective efficient goal-achievement. In that sense, I don't strive to be a killer, but I do metaphorically wish my actions to be lethal.