Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Historical Drift

There will be lots of images that may come to mind when considering what I have entitled my thoughts today I am sure. As time rushes by there are changes that come, not matter how hard we may fight against them. Years ago I watched my Dad changing from a dynamic thoughtful individual to someone who seemed to struggle with maintaining the connections with the surroundings that he had known and loved for years. Oh, he still had the ability most times, to quote from memory tucked away back there, a poem or two, but he was not the same man that led meetings and made important decision some 30 years previously. Perhaps you have watched someone you have loved or admired, begin to stand a bit further back from the center of things, especially decision making opportunities, yet they would cling to their opinions with a tenacity that was either still admirable or equated a just plain out of date thinking!

It is so easy to get caught up in the moment of evaluating others and forget to evaluate ourselves. Take for instance myself and my story, as I continue to go off to meetings at one level or another. I sit and watch most times, I listen to the debates, the challenges confronting the committees and am amazed at the various levels of dialogue that enters the area of discussion. It becomes easy to identify the various personalities, the levels of education, the environments surrounding their history and the levels of experience from which they draw both facts and conclusions. There is also present the dynamic of age and the presence of “Historical Drift”.
Age can modify our ability to accept change. The strange thing about it is that we know we are aging, we know that we appreciate what is and know that change is inevitable. But we are not as interested in having change for the sake of change, even when it is becomes a necessary evil to maintain both healthy and growing living conditions for the community or culture. There can be a fine line of definition here as to the how’s and the why’s, but for the most part we, as we age, will begin to fight change… anything that moves us out our comfort zone. It can be as major as a new Medical Centre located away from where it used to me, to the restructuring of waiting room with different and less inviting furniture at our accountant’s office.
Historical drift on the other hand is subtle in both its existence and its debilitating undermining of our ability to see the pitfalls that begin to appear in both structure and vision. If you want to put a definition to the label, it might be most easily visualized as a perhaps a boat sitting at mooring in the harbour. The owner has had the mooring for years, has sailed to and from that site hundreds of times and is comfortable with it…. There is no need to move it; yet through the years several things have taken place that have made it either no longer viable or safe to use. First, natural wear and tear from tides, wave action during storms and other naturally occurring environmental stresses have weakened its ability to function as it should. Second, there has been a subtle movement of the mooring during winter ice conditions, combined with storm stresses while the boat was moored there, that have moved the mooring slightly each year closer to underwater dangers, never noticed, never calculated really, it just happened. Historical drift is like that in our personal lives… subtle changes come as we get used to doing things a certain way, expect things to respond in certain ways, handle values, vision and the everyday issues of life being lived in a certain, unchanging way, that cause us to lose track of the “track” and the momentum needed to keep the business of living both contemporary and relevant to the times and issues. There is a difference.

I want to be contemporary, but it is a new playground for each following generation. Just like I can no longer go to the gym and play badminton like I did 40 years ago, so I can no longer expect to keep abreast with the young players in the foreground of industry or commerce. I can still evaluate the game, but I can’t seem to grasp the need to change the plays needed to get to the acquired results. I can name all the great players of the past but I don’t want to leave them dangling while newer, more seemingly skilled athletes dazzle the crowds and break the old established records of the past.

And relevance is a battle every day. When you begin to feel that you are no longer relevant to the issues, or even worse the arguments being proposed are not relevant to the issues at hand, fear creeps in and we try even harder to make the point that everyone seems to be missing; “That is not what we have always done!”; only to hear the wisdom of youth retort; “And it didn’t work before so why try it again!”

My heart cries out with both anxious fear and quiet frustration lots of days now. I guess I wanted to expect that things would change. It may seem odd, that statement coming from an aging warrior who has been considered the radical for too many years. But I have always wanted change! From an early age I was fighting the Historical Drift that I saw present in life and wanted to see new growth, potentials that lay dormant for years to now spring into blossom and make what could be, come to fruition for our communities, our businesses and our futures. I tried to herald the cry; “Not just the youth of tomorrow but the youth of today!”, that families now present could cling to the hope of a better tomorrow, based on the growth seen today. Frustration with self, boredom with constant division when unity is the only answer, and too many NO’s! Too often the nay-sayers out-shout the let’s-doers or how-toer’s… especially when change is pending. I will never forget the voice of a man who has made millions and told a small group meeting one day of his key to success. “I got tired of committees to plan meetings, meetings to establish plans, plans to do research and viability through studies on viability and sourcing and so I moved to make change myself… I figure that if you are not motivated to motivate beyond the planning stages you are not motivate toward change! We can talk ourselves into the next century but what we need is to stop talking and start doing!”

So today I am wondering if I am caught in my own Historical Drift and am clinging to an effort that may be better managed by the younger, more energetic youth who are both contemporary and relevant to today’s needs and methods. I like my friend and so many others, who chat along the streets, are tired of committees meeting for the sake of meeting, and getting nowhere.  I don’t want to sound cynical, but am I becoming that way as part of the “Drift”? I have a long list of dreams and wishes and they all still include change and growth, but am I stuck in a puddle of broken dreams and becoming what I feared in others down through the years?

Today, at least, I want to find a modicum of relevancy! I want to maintain a sense of entitlement to speak and if I can muster more than a futile effort of engagement, I may be able to pull off a few tidbits of wisdom without a lengthy diatribe on how it used to be, over against that which it can be, while giving insights on how it can be accomplished, with some visible level of contemporary input. The key may be, for me anyway, the ability to listen toward evaluation. I am learning that evaluation doesn’t have to be a critical process of study and reporting; it most often becomes, when you are part of a group dynamic, the integration of your personal opinions and perceptions into the process being developed. It may be simply the further engagement by the group on your personal insights, when they move towards critical analysis and into a plan of action. When that is no longer is the case, I may be adrift in the drift…. Let’s hope I can be aware enough to notice that does take place and brave enough to step aside so that younger, more energetic voices can take up the tasks… Or… am I there already and am not self-aware yet? Hmmm!

So this is another trip towards the edge. Some may think that these journeys are too complicated, the issues are too deep, but for those who are living the exercise and who want to know they are not alone or need to evaluate their own processes a bit deeper, maybe this rant will give you further fodder to consider. May you be blessed as you stride each day toward the edge, or like me, for whatever reason choose to live there,  and my your perspective find focus away from the normal to just left of where you are… just outside the box… it may be close to the edge… but the view from there can be astounding!

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