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You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, the first novel in my fantasy adventure series. Visit the Edge of the World! Come for the view, stay for the adventure!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Participation vs Competition-

My driving style has changed over the years. Like many young people, I drove rather competitively in my youth. I tried to ace out that guy weaving in and out of traffic. I refused to give way to that jerk trying to edge a few spaces ahead when traffic was getting bogged down. I fought for position, even if it was just one car length.

These days I watch for that guy weaving in and out of traffic. I try to make room so that he (or she) can just move right on past me. I figure my sleight adjustment of position and speed won't significantly impact my own journey, and this person is just going to do what they are going to do no matter what I do. If nothing else I have made sure that Mr. Bob-and-weave will have his accident somewhere far from me.

I give way. I try to make the journey of others around me go more smoothly. I have found that giving way does not make me late to my destination. In more than one case I have pulled into a parking lot at my destination and found Mr. Bob-and-weave just getting out of his car. He gained mere seconds at the cost of great risk to himself and others. Seconds.

What has happened is that I have switched from viewing my journey as a competition to one of participation. How can I make traffic flow better? What can I do now that will make the shared journey go more smoothly? They are usually tiny things. Mostly just not insisting on having something of little value, such as one car length.

My perception has altered. I actually perceive traffic flowing better as a consequence of my new attitude. Is this just an illusion? I really don't know. I don't particularly care, as long as my experience is made better. As long as my participation seems to me to make things better, things are better.

Today (while driving) I realized what I was doing, and gave it a name. I came up with the title for this blog as a description of what I was doing. Participating in the journey I was sharing with all of the people on the road. We may not all have had the same destination, but for a time we were all together and moving in the same direction. It cost me very little to try to make the journey better for all of us.

I have to wonder if this kind of thinking could be applied to other situations. Granted, in a game or in a true survival situation head-to-head competition may be the better way. However, in most of life participation might well be the better choice. Politics? The economy? My local community affairs?

My purpose in the future is to keep an eye out for opportunities to be a participant rather than a competitor. It will always come down to little things. Small courtesies performed to make my journey and the journey of those around me a bit more pleasant. Kindness need not be costly, and courtesy is an affordable luxury.

Live long. Live well. Choose wisely.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Farewell, Steve-

Lots of people will be blogging farewell to a creative and powerful figure of our era. I, too, wish to express my appreciation for the man and his work. He has truly impacted our world. I have visited the Apple campus, a nexus of innovation and creativity. I have been directly and indirectly involved in Silicon Valley, and the amazing culture it spawned.

I am particularly amazed at all he did toward the end of his days. Pancreatic cancer is particularly painful, and to do battle for so long is truly impressive. I have a dubious honor in that I had an attack of acute pancreatitis years ago. I sampled the pain. It is a most amazing pain, and for him to work through that kind of pain on a regular basis for years is astounding. That, and continuing to perform at a high level in a challenging industry.

He will be missed. Missed by multitudes, around the world. And rightly so.

I now turn to another page. In the course of my own career I never met Steve Jobs, but I met other people. People not so high up on the scale of human achievement. Dregs, actually. In particular, winos. Drunks. Wasted humanity. Failures as deep as Steve Jobs was successful.

I watched them die, over time. Penguin. Pathfinder. Scotty. Scotty was a particularly nice guy. Vodka Ron. Ron would often continue conversations with me that we had never started. Others whom I could name. One took the name of Harry Blackstone Jr., and was a magician at the end of his magical rope. One went by the name of Sarge, with some unclear military background.

Some were broken warriors. Others just took a wrong turn at a bump in the road of life. A few had college degrees somewhere in the past. Others had failed businesses, failed relationships, or just failed life management decisions. All found themselves at the bottom of a bottle. I never saw any of them that got in this deep make it out, except Pathfinder. He just quit. Got a job and a place to stay. Then died.

I choose to sometimes remember these forgotten humans. Steve Jobs earned the honor of being remembered by multitudes. That is good and right. I remember him, too. The others, those who did not fare as well, will go unremembered. I choose to sometimes remember them, not for their successes or failures, but for their humanity.

Human, just like Steve. Farewell, Steve. You ran a good race. Rest in peace.