Leafy Shoes

Autumn treeOccasionally I like to participate in blog challenges, and sometimes I even post the result. This week I was drawn into the weekly DPChallenge because so many of the blogs I like to read seemed to be writing extraordinarily wonderful pieces for it, and I became intrigued. The challenge has been posted by Rara:

This week, we’re asking you to consider things from a different point of view — to walk a mile in someone’s shoes. 

Well, I thought, that sounds like a bit of a giggle. Let’s try it out.

In previous lives I have run a few IT Helpdesks. You know the ones: you call up and a spotty adolescent rolls his or her eyes and tells you to try switching it off and on again. Then you call back and they ask you to open the computer up and reinstall the hard drive without a safety net. I have to say this should never have happened on my watch, although I have indeed talked a customer through opening up a computer to remove a CD their colleague had pushed inside the case for some inexplicable reason. I may have used the phrase “It’s fine, it’s just like Lego” a little more than necessary but we all survived.

Naturally I planned to write something that I always try to instil in my technical support teams about getting into the customer’s shoes.

Then my sub-conscious mugged me.

I sat at the keyboard expectantly and imagined my voice droning on at the team about how no one is born knowing Command Line. God, I was boring. I have a new appreciation for the patience of technical support staff now, given they were able to put up with that and not hunt me down with pitchforks and torches; although what they get up to World of Warcraft is their business so long as it’s not on company time.

So my brain stared at me and I stared at the keyboard.

“OK, Brain,” I said. “What else then?”

And all of a sudden I saw a picture of a maple leaf fluttering to the ground. I blame it on the fact I have been watching “Due South” all week.

“On no,” I muttered. But Brain was relentless.

Back in the autumn I attended a creative writing workshop, and even wrote about the experience in this very blog. If you remember it, or read it again now (I’ll wait – OK, ready?), I was rather overwhelmed at the fact I read a piece of my imaginative writing out loud to real humans. Today the Brain has decreed I should take this further and share it with you.

So, with a deep breath, I will. Allow me caveats first – it was a 5 minute exercise, and no time to edit. If I could just ask that you keep the giggling to a minimum I would be grateful Thank you, as they say, kindly.

For the piece we were asked to write about an experience of autumn, I wrote about how I felt as a two year old when we visited my aunt and uncle in Canada, and I saw the beautiful Canadian Fall. It blew my little English mind and is one of my happiest memories. In it I am warm and snug, with the cold air nipping my nose and my uncle holding my hand and telling me about things called Maple Trees, and my eyes are having a party with the colours.

The reason I am including it for this challenge is that in my little girl noggin I wanted to be up in the treetops too, with those brightly coloured leaves which I think I confused with fairies.

Autumn leaf

I want to be an autumn leaf, high in the trees, brightening and crinkling in the frost and sunshine. I can see for miles across the tree tops and everywhere are other leaves as bright and shining as me. We are singing in the light and cold air, just waiting to leap from the tree into the wind, and dance down to earth in our millions. We twist and shiver in the wind but the tree won’t let us go. We cover her in glory. We have to move on.

Why not have a go at this challenge yourself, if you haven’t already done so? Getting into someone else’s shoes is like an out of body experience. Have fun!

Namaste

Brave

I was brave today.

Not Brave, like a mythical Scottish princess in a tantrum.

I am not now, nor ever have been, a Scottish princess. At least, to the best of my knowledge I have not. I have no affinity for tartan, although I don’t mind haggis or bagpipes, but am neutral on the Campbells. Sigoth meanwhile can trace his ancestry back to the Ancient Kings of Scotland via Rob Roy McGregor, which means the Offspringses may have Scottish princess in their veins, in a more or less diluted form. I, however, hail from different stock, more English, more Southern, more stiff upper lip.

So I was brave with a small b, but also in a big, heart-thumping, screw myself up to it kind of a way. Worse than a sack full of spiders, worse than an attic full of wasp-nest, I had to talk to someone about my feelings.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am of the IT Project Manager persuasion. This means people think I am logical, rational and reasonable. No doubt any one of you who reads this blog will be able to tell them better. EBL is a right-brain mess of emotion and fanciful ideas, popping and fizzing with little structure or coherence.

In every test known to humanity I score right-brain, creative, intuitive to the extreme. I’m not just a bit that way inclined. I am X-treme with a capital X. Yet I work in a job requiring logic, process, and structure. I can even do those things passably well.

Partly people see what their prejudice expects. It’s enough of a shock for some people that I am blessed with more than the usual number of X chromosomes for an IT goblin. After that they redefine me as a weird bloke in a skirt. I comfort them by drinking beer, watching rugby and laughing loudly at my own jokes.

Being expected to behave a certain way can result in behaving in a certain way. You need processes and structure? Fine, I’ll give you some. Then when I get home I kick off my shoes and knit, or write, or teach myself Anglo-Saxon.

Hwæt! Þū willt leornian Eald Englisc? Yes, actually, it’s fun. And the poetry is magnificent.

Whatever the reason, I have learned at work to be a veritable Vulcan. Sometimes due to the need to control excess emotion I have to meditate or perform the Kohlinar (on this planet, also known as having a nice cup of tea), but otherwise I try not to let my feelings get in the way. My colleagues think I am thick-skinned.

Today I had to talk to someone about how I had been feeling about a problem at work. It took me days to summon up the courage to do so, but after three sleepless nights in a row I knew I must. I didn’t have the opportunity until mid-afternoon because of meetings, and the fear of it prowled around me all morning. I couldn’t eat lunch. I barely tasted my cup of tea. I refused to look at emails in case the person had sent me one that I had to answer. I rehearsed what I wanted to say, doubting that it was really a problem, doubting that I was allowed to feel like this, but then recognising finally that if I wasn’t sleeping and felt sick it might be important. Eventually I called.

My dears, I look back on that phone call now and it was such a little thing. We talked and I felt better.

How big I make these problems, which are in reality so small.

So, today I was brave. In being so, I took a small step on the path to peace. One day I may be able to take another. And if I can do it, so can you.

Namaste.