As Often as it Takes

Way back when I was in boarding school, we used to joke that God sometimes used a 50 pound hammer to get our attention. We thought perhaps wisdom was when God didn’t have to use a hammer at all.

I no longer believe that God interacts with me that much. The deeply personal, deeply invested relationship, where God directed each thing that happened in my life? Science and evolution and tragedy and experience in the universe has led me to believe that if God exists, well, he’s a busy deity and he honestly has better things to do than whack me with a hammer because I keep committing the same sin.

God doesn’t sit in heaven, look down at me and sigh, shaking his head when I’m about to do the same stupid thing for the umpteenth time. There’s no ‘whack’, so that I fall back in line. The law of cause and effect affords me the opportunity to keep practicing. Einstein posited in practical wisdom if not scientific fact, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is a sort of insanity.

I will digress – just for a moment – to point out to the immutable forces of cause and effect and to the eternal wisdom of Einstein: while I appreciate that I may do the same things over and over and expect a different result, the same things often look like very different things when I am in the middle of them. Indeed, I am perpetually Wile E. Coyote, believing that my latest Acme purchase will defeat the Road Runner. I fail to realize that the problem is not with the Acme company, it that I persist in a foolish game of defeating the road runner. Meep Meep.

I am managing a very large, very complex and very politically fraught project. I am, in truth back in exactly the same sort of environment I was in during the Spring of 2014. We might say it’s not that different than the project I worked on between 2009 and 2011. It’s nothing new. And I have learned things. I have learned a bit more balance, I’ve built confidence. I’m a better leader than I was. I have more of a sense of where things go wrong to head them off.

What I don’t have, not yet and maybe not ever, is the ability to divorce myself from my work. The ability to walk through my front door and turn off the project part of my brain and simply be all the other parts of me I’ve worked so hard on developing.

I say this as a woman who is an ugly bundle of stress and frustration and aggravation.

Which is ok. Because the law of cause and effect will allow me as many tries as I require to learn this lesson.

Meep Meep.

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