Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Distractions

I'm still alive! For the three of you out there who follow this blog, you've obviously noticed that I have not published anything even remotely meaningful since the beginning of the month. And for that I say Mea Culpa. My work life has been turned upside down of late, and it looks like I'm going to be, and in some ways already am, doing the jobs of three people. This, naturally, has me going slightly mad. Thus the lack of posts. But that doesn't mean that life has paused.

The big news of the moment is that my nemesis will be slapped around by administration at some point today. He took last week off, which made my life infinitely more enjoyable, as he wasn't around to attempt to micromanage the work I do. And no, he's not my supervisor. I just spoke with my boss, and she said that while she hasn't called him on the carpet yet, I should plan on doing everything he was going to do in my department. Which piles more work on me, but also lowers my stress level. As is usual in life, it's a mixed bag.

All of this reminds me of an old Chinese story about a elderly man who owned a horse. One day the horse jumped the fence and ran off into the wilderness. All of his neighbors said, "Oh, that's terrible." to which he answered, "If you say so."

Then one day his horse returned with another horse that it had met on its journey to parts unknown. The neighbors said, "You're so lucky!" The man answered, "If you say so."

So the man's son tried to break in the new horse - which was a wild filly - and was thrown. The son broke his leg and became permanently crippled. The neighbors said, "What bad luck!" The man answered, "If you say so."

Then the Emperor's soldiers came through, conscripting all the able-bodied men to serve in an upcoming war. Being disabled from his accident, the son was left at home and did not have to risk his life in the conflict. The neighbor's said, "How fortunate you are!" To which the man said, as always, "If you say so."

I've heard this story told many times, the most recent in a Zen dharma talk that I downloaded to my MP3 player and listened to on the way to work the other day. The lesson was essentially about how we should strive to see things as they are, without being swayed by our emotions or personal attachment to the situation. No situation is all good or all bad. The situation just is. Similarly, people aren't all good or all evil. People just are. We can find the poositive in anything, just as we can find the negative in everything. If we look for either, depending on our emotional state or personal tendencies, we are bound to find it.

I am trying to put this to use today, as both my workload and stress levels have increased with the current conflict brewing at the other end of the hall. Yes, it's good that my nemesis is going to be kept out of my hair. But it's also bad that I am going to be doing his work and the doctor I work with is giving me additional duties that I do not have time to do (and, just to be clear, I have a patient coming in 10 minutes, so I don't have time to bury myself in data entry or other chart work.). A patient of mine with whom I've been working is crashing and burning in his issues and personal demons. He's being moved, by his own actions, to a place where I can no longer work with him. He's taken up a lot of man hours as I've been working both with him and his family. So times going to be freed up by this turn of events. That's good. The bad is that he's affliction is probably going to take him to an early grave. And that is horrific.

So as I meditate during my lunch break (if I get one), I'm going to try and focus on avoiding the tendency to label people and events. They just are. It's how I respond - which is different from reacting, but that's a subject for another time - that is the key.

And with that, it's back to the grind. Peace.

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