When I started writing my unfinished book many years ago, I had a mountain of material to leverage from the old days of battling it out by email. As it is now it was back then — I didn’t change anyone’s mind about anything that conflicted with their calcified conclusions.
My efforts were writing exercises more than anything else though. Sure, I hoped I’d make a dent — but I found great value in reflecting on each exchange regardless of the outcome.
I go in stages between my career goals in IT and my observations on life that I love to write about from time to time. I rarely comment on current events anymore. But when I do, my efforts are NEVER in pursuit of political gain for any party — but rather the pursuit of truth (that occasionally might be couched in the “political” context of the moment).
When I’m in my IT zone of study — I have the same commitment to craft that you see on this site — the same “obsessive” search to get it right (which I’ve had all my life). But in that quest for knowledge, I’ve needed a lot help over the years (especially in the early days).
I’m continually amazed by the excellence I find on YouTube and other sources — people explaining concepts in minutes that didn’t register after reading entire chapters for hours. In no way is that a knock against books (I still use them), it’s just that I’ve gotten better about how to harness my mix of materials to get me where I wanna go.
Far and away the most critical factor has been the focus on smaller components — isolating my areas of study and incrementally building on them.
On my professional profile site Precision Matters, it states:
Essential to this site is the idea of leveraging knowledge
The site you’re on was built by the same principle — as it’s a refined collection of previous efforts combined with some new ones.
Accuracy has always been at the forefront of my pursuits — so even if something is in my interests (politically or otherwise) — if it’s not true, I won’t stand for it.
And if I’m not a fan of a particular president — and he’s mistreated or misrepresented in any way, I won’t sit back in silence on that either. The media is full of frauds — but if they’re making sense and speaking the truth, I’ll support that (even though their hypocrisy is patently obvious).
The point is that I can see what’s what — regardless of the source, and that’s taken a lifetime of practice (including the welcoming of criticism that comes my way).
I’ve been on the receiving end of ridicule that was way over the top and mean-spirited — but that doesn’t discount the fact that at times their scorn was rooted in some truth.
I would add that ugliness can have good intentions (sort of a twisted form of tough love). So while we may not like how we’re being treated at times, we would do well to remember our people for the totality of who they are — and that maybe they were harsh because that’s what they felt was needed.
I’m gonna look for truth whether I’m offended or not — and I’ll make it matter if I find it
But sometimes it takes years to figure out you were wrong
What will you do with that newfound knowledge?
In that spirit, below is a brief snail-mail letter that shows a striking contrast between my attitude and almost all those I have confronted over the years — resting assured in their certitude like it’s their birthright.
Just to set the scene — the recipient of the letter is the husband of a longtime friend in the Netherlands (she and I were very close before she moved there). Though we all managed to get along during my previous visit, there was an always an undercurrent of tension — mostly because he’s possessive and occasionally psychotic.
And then there’s this factor — how a friend cleverly called me a “transatlantic threat”
I had heard about his psychologically abusive behavior from my friend, but I saw it firsthand on my 2010 trip. The fact that I wrote this letter to someone I think so low of is precisely the point — to accept responsibility wherever it is warranted, regardless of the parties involved.
His tirade at his wife could have been avoided had I been paying more attention
While his actions are inexcusable, that does not absolve me for helping to create the conditions that led to them. Maybe two weeks was too long, but that’s what I was invited for, and everything would have been fine had he not gotten sick.
That changed everything
And my failure to factor for that is where I royally screwed up.
October 16, 2013
Dear [name removed],
It dawned on me recently that I should have been more courteous when you got sick 3 years ago. Nobody likes being around outsiders when they are ill, and you were having a really tough time. Had it even crossed my mind to get a hotel to give you some space, I would have done so — but I was having too much fun to be looking out for my host, and I apologize for not doing so.
I’m really discouraged with myself that it took me 3 years to figure this out.
As I am writing a book about human behavior, I’m supposed to know better — but sometimes I’m just too damn slow because my mind gets wrapped up in so many other things. One of the reasons I know so much about psychology is because I’ve spent so much time reflecting on my own mistakes. I’m always open to examining all the angles of every situation — persistently probing and continually asking, “What am I missing here?”
But I blew this one by a mile.
I have made an enormous amount of progress on my book over the last couple of years, and one of its key constructs is the idea of mutual responsibility in a social contract. I owed you some thoughtfulness and didn’t hold up my end of the bargain.
But whether it’s in the moment or many years later, whenever I discover that I am wrong in some way — I do whatever it takes to own up to it.
I owe you an apology and I hope you accept it.
I sent him that book because he’s really into World War II history — and I thought it was a nice symbolic gesture in the possibility in moving past all this. It was not to be.
Some friends were visiting me in Charlotte in 2007 and they invited me come visit them in Namibia (where they were working for USAID). I decided right then and there to take them up on their offer, and planned out a 2-month journey that would take me to Europe, Africa, India, and China (for my first overseas trip).
My friend in the picture had just taken up painting again — so I commissioned her to paint this picture from Namibia below. She would have done it for nothing, but I just thought it was cool to commission a painting and be her first customer.
She’d never done a landscape before. Pretty impressive, don’t ya think?
I couldn’t agree more with the comment below . . .
What was Jimmy Iovine thinking when he insisted this song not be included on the “Long After Dark”?