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Archive for December, 2009

I’m a Snake

I used to be put off by my Chinese horoscope when I looked at the placemat and saw my birth year is the Snake. At best, I was relieved to know that my now husband and I were compatible, because he is the OX. You do that kinda thing when you are a hungry teenager with silly thoughts about “LUUUUVE”.

Snakes have a bad rep

It doesn’t seem good or positive to call yourself a snake. From stories about the temptation of Eve to the slithering slimy belly-crawling connotation usually given to devious characters, it seems like referring to yourself as a snake is like saying “Hey! Look! I’m a real jerk!”. 

Yesterday, an answer that I had been seeking out for years in my subconscious suddenly occurred to me. I’ve always silently berated myself for having such difficulty keeping up with people and maintaining connections over time — even very meaningful ones. I also have seen a personal trend where I admire someone’s strengths, start to pattern myself after that good example, and then seem to ‘grow out of my respect them’. That sounds horrible, right? I used to think so too.

Others have called me out on this behavior as well and accused me of being disingenuous.  I can definitely see their point of view, because I would compliment someone, become an adoring fan, then later after a time start to exhibit opposing views in some way that seemed to contradict my fan status. I never felt I was being fake. I honestly felt and meant what I said when I said it. I have even been sincerely empathetic to people’s feelings when it definitely seemed like I was being “fickle”, at best. I could never explain why this was so or what was really going on. 

To be fair with full disclosure, there are also other people in my life which are like friendly soul mates and soul acquaintances. There are a fair few people I deeply respect and –even though I still don’t keep in touch regularly– we have a pretty deep connection. So much so, that I can go for months and years without talking to them and when we catch up over an hour or so, we are completely up-to-date or in-sync with what we are focusing on so its like we were never apart. In those cases, the person fills up my emotional and creative “fuel tank”. Those moments are pretty awe-inspiring when they happen, and its how I feel a bit more redeemable when I get the “you are fake” accusations.

Snakes as philosophical and skin shedding

So, here is my big “aha!”: I am a continuously evolving life wanderer – just like a snake, and I am actually cool with that.

I’m non-linear. My roaming and nomadic mind shifts from topic to interest to curiosity much like a sidewinder across the desert. I grab on to various things along my irregular path and stop to appreciate people and aspects as if they were an oasis in the dull and repetitive sand dunes of the everyday.

I’m sincere. When I notice an interesting quality of someone or something, I pause , soak in the nuances, take note of the good parts and go on my merry way. Since I am a glass is half full person always on the lookout to improve, I tend to ignore or overlook the bad things. It doesn’t mean that a highly appreciative compliment I mention isn’t a sincere. It means I admire something meaningful to me about that person, place, or thing.

I shed old thoughts and habits regularly. Whatever that ‘something’ is that I notice, it has given me pause to re-evaluate what that new information means to me and my life. It’s the start of a cycle of self reflection. I constantly re-evaluate things based on my own principles and values. “I” am a transient being willing to move past old ideas and ways of doing things. Snakes do that. They leave skins behind and go on to the next thing. I see that as the grief associated with some friends in my past. They liked that “skin” I had. They didn’t want me to change. They liked me the way I was. I was familiar in my habits and they were comfortable with that view of me. I can definitely respect that and empathize, but it’s my nature to change. Perhaps this is the source for the snake’s bad rep.

I am dependable, but adaptable, which are different things. Many people confuse dependability with consistency. I am SO NOT one of those people. To me, being dependable means “whatever it takes, I will fulfill my promises with integrity (within human fallible reason)”. So, if that means an old stupid, repeatable process-oriented  reason gets in the way of achieving the nature of my promise, I will ignore it, side-step it, climb over, tunnel under, defy sleep, etc to accomplish what I said I would. Some people don’t get that, which makes me realize why we have conflict.

I am an influencer — NOT a controller!  “Consistent and repeatable for the sake of routine and cause I said so” people are pretty much my mortal enemy. — with ONE EXCEPTION: The context of their routine is correct, reasonable, and justified, like keeping a server up and running, QA tasks, customer care/service people, daycare workers, teachers, construction and trade workers, and even some people with mundane yet necessary administrative tasks in management, finance, support staff, etc. There are less than glamorous jobs that definitely require routine and little creativity to keep things running smoothly and orderly. Truly those people are actually my heroes!  I have a tortuous Achilles heel when it comes to that area. I can maintain it for a while, when it is truly needed and someone is depending on it for a specific reason, but when the cause fades and it is “just for the sake of routine”, I am no longer “dependable” in that way.

So my main point about influencing is I am usually not a ‘black and white’ thinker unless the situation calls for it. I get the impression that people look to me for “the answer” because I am so passionate, which for many translates into “tell me what to do next”. THAT AIN’T ME! I want people to care and contribute to the effort. I also respect that people have their own brains, passions, and skills. Why would I want to overshadow that with my ideas? That doesn’t seem logical to me.

More About Dependability & Roles

Again, I will usually step in if the initiave is failing and people’s time is wasted due to a lack of a ‘driver’, but I find it exquisitely stupefying how most people are trained not to think for themselves. It’s like acute brainwashing. It’s amazing to watch people’s faces, that are asking something from me or complaining, when I say, “Hmmm, I dunno. What do you suggest?”. It’s a look of almost terror. Try it for yourself on someone who complains a lot. You will see what I mean. It’s truly stress! The burden of thinking and deciding is a right of someone else. That’s again what people see as “Dependable” — assuming the role of either the Thinker or Doer. How sad is that?

For people that believe in the “thinker” OR “doer” badge/title, it takes a few interactions with me  to get where I am coming from. Then, at that point, they either love me or hate me — no real in-between. I may get along with them for a time, and that time is usually because either (1) the process they follow is teaching me something that I see as necessary at the time or for specific situations; or (2) I am still assessing the values in a situation and really haven’t vocalized my opinions and suggestions yet.

For so many years, people have lived and died by their branding of “thinker” or “doer” and never shedding that skin–personally, professionally, or both. Whole departments stage turf wars and political agendas over such things. All that wasted energy and money is personally sickening to think about. What if that motivation went in a positive direction? Talk about lost opportunity cost! It’s definitely bigger than our national debt.

So, I’m a snake for life

To the people in my past and future that wonder “what is her deal!?”, perhaps I will forward on this posting. Maybe you will learn something interesting about me, maybe contribute new thoughts, or maybe point out that you don’t care and still see me with a negative connotation. Any of those reactions are alright with me. To me, the only thing that is constant is change, and in that way, I am dependable! 🙂

I suppose my sudden realization is a bonus for the middle-age thing. That’s cool. At least I’ve gotten *some* kinda wisdom for the gray hair! 😦