The Timelessness of Futility

A poetic reflection jotted down in my yellowing writing notebook this cold night.

Extremes take turns on the see-saw.
Often wrong and never mixed.
The pendulum swings,
And in between is apathy.
As the most well-grounded
Muddle through mediocrity.
The tides come in.
The tides go out.
And the shore stands still
Against the storm.
God bides time
While men play games.
The pendulum swings,
Marking time
While the world spins.
Is the end determined,
Or do the determined decide the end?
Time and tide,
Space and soul.
All will be told.

Some more photos

Adirondack reflections while pausing to catch my breath on a two mile vertical climb.

Adirondack reflections while pausing to catch my breath on a two mile vertical climb.

a little green on a fall hike

a little green on a fall hike

Misty morning on Cranberry Lake, New York

Misty morning on Cranberry Lake, New York

IMG_0854

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario

Me at Lake Ontario

Me at Lake Ontario

Enjoy the moments

Driving to work today, I saw a man leaning against a wood rail fence with one foot propped up on the middle rail.  Nothing notable, right?  Well, the temp with wind chill was in the mid 20’s F.  That didn’t seem to be bothering him.  He was looking over a grassy area that drops down below the street.  It would have been covered in snow, though I couldn’t see it from my vantage point in my swiftly moving vehicle carrying me to that place I go to make money in order to get by.

Maybe he was watching kids or a dog romping around, but even so, he seemed to be enjoying the moment.  His stance was completely relaxed and while he was wearing a winter coat, he wasn’t especially bundled up.  You can get pretty used to the cold, once you stop thinking of it as a negative.  It makes you appreciate the spring and summer more, after all.

It was an unexpected scene of tranquility in an inconspicuous bit of roadside real estate.  I must confess, I didn’t slow down, since I was a little later than I like to be, and my manager likes me to be.  I wasn’t late, mind you, but not as early as expected.  Such is the rush of modern life.

I did take a mental picture though, which I’m looking at now in the small hours of the night.  I see afternoon rays through the trees, lighting the scene just brightly enough, not glaring, but radiant.  I feel the calm of the stranger by the road, and I’m glad I saw him.

Thanks for the reminder to enjoy the moment.

Obligatory year end review

Yes, everyone does it, but why not?  A year in review:

My first full year as an assistant store manager at Family Dollar.

I stepped down as president of Allentown Film Crew, a community filmmaking group.   I held the group together and got a project filmed two years ago with little support, and set up some workshops and guest speakers for meetings over the last year, but didn’t have the energy or the gumption to follow through on ideas I had.   Stability turned to stagnation.  I decided to let someone else take the reins and take a supporting role for myself.  My friend and original member, Trisha Thompson took those proverbial reins.  I may have created a monster.  wink,wink, nudge, nudge

I started this blog.

I attended my 25th class reunion.  Still can’t believe I’m that old.

First full year of having adopted cat Smokey, to whom Wiley has been amazingly receptive after being the sole cat of the house for ten years.

I lost another 15 pounds, added to the 25 lost in the previous two years.

Things I’ve learned:

Even people who are friendly with you at a retail store will steal right under your nose.

Coworkers will talk smack about you to no end.  Everyone’s a critic – of everything you do.  I bury the judgments and criticisms I feel toward others and then resent the overt negative talk from others, because I don’t have the gumption to dish it out.  And then get over it.

When assertiveness doesn’t come naturally, it’s a life long effort to keep doing it.  If you’re not assertive, people will walk all over you, leave you out in the cold, and have a lower opinion of you.

Anxiety, paranoia and resentment are inhibitive of personal growth.

Man was not made to live in a vacuum.  I need to find a partner in 2015.

It’s a struggle to keep seeing the positive in humanity, but it’s worth the effort to keep trying.

Putting your foot down about something can cause friction, but will be for the better in the long run.

I’ll probably add more later.

In the meantime, have a prosperous year as you pursue long time interests and dreams.  You’ll find some kind of satisfaction and fulfillment, no matter what the final outcome.

 

Workin’ hard

My fellow assistant manager is one of those people who is really cool as long as things go his way.  He is admittedly, more efficient than I am both at getting things done himself and utilizing the help he has to get things done.  I’m improving on both counts, though.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m too nice a guy that people don’t always bust a gut to get things done on my shift, or if it’s that I don’t give clear enough goals or instruction.  My counterpart is very aloof and doesn’t like to be bothered while he’s working on his stuff.  That’s not a good thing, but at the same time, I think he gives the associates clear assignments before he disappears.  It seems to work as far as getting things done, but it’s not my style.  I think management should be approachable and supportive.  I think I am those two things.  I just need to be more assertive, decisive and authoritative.  I truly don’t care about being liked.  It’s more of a confidence thing.

The best managers I’ve had over the years have been nice and approachable, but still commanded respect because they were clear about what they expected, and were not afraid to both delegate and to express disappointment and discipline when necessary.  I respected and liked those managers.  I strive to be like that.

It’s challenging to get on people’s cases for not getting things done sometimes because I struggle with it myself.  The job is fast paced and demanding, with CONSTANT interruptions.  But there are times when I’ve thought that I could work circles around someone and I am too gentle in telling them to pick up the pace.   Part of the reason for that is that I have a hard time relating to people who are not self-motivated like I have always been.  Many people will get work done when you give them a specific goal and check up on them.  The checking up on them is the key part for most, which I tend to lag on.  When I’m given something to do, I want to do it for my own sense of satisfaction upon completion.  I’ve had one or two associates like that in over a year as an assistant manager of a dollar store.  I’ve realized with some disillusionment, that even good workers usually need to feel that someone is watching to put the maximum into the job.  Maybe that’s fair, if they think you won’t notice either way; whether they bust their ass or slack off.  I know it’s on me as the one in charge.

People might think that being an assistant manager of a dollar store is easy, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.  Like many businesses these days, discount retailers rely on minimal staff/payroll to maximize profit.  A “fast paced environment” means understaffed.  “Multi-tasking” means doing three peoples’ job (for less pay than your predecessor).

It is what it is, and I strive to do it to the best of my ability.  I feel that I am continually improving, but it’s frustrating, especially because I could be doing so much more.  I lacked support or guidance when I was younger.  (See Father’s Day post)  but I’m not blaming disappointments in life on my parents.  The choices I made and actions I took, or didn’t take, are mine to own.  That’s what keeps me going.  If I blamed everything on others, I’d be bogged down in self pity and bitterness.

So, I do the best I can where I am while looking ahead and trying to plan for the future.  That’s all anyone can do.