2014-10-12

Social Calisthenics

Vacation Day 4. Social calisthenics.

I spent the day travelling with one set of relatives, on a sort of tour. I discussed with them food, and culture, and theology, and history, and language, and wills, and personal weaknesses, and best ways to deal with all the above. Then I spent a couple of hours with another set of relatives, at a sort of reunion. I discussed with them their work, the people whose lives they hope to change, the methods they have tested, and the results obtained (both surprising, and trite, to them), the economics of their workplaces, the economics of their politics, their living arrangements, and then some.

And the result, for me, was an appreciation only of the fact that I still know how to do this, even though I don't care for most of it. None of this makes me feel any more identified with these people, than I feel about nameless bodies whom I pass on the street. Don't get me wrong - in the short term, it's FUN to socialise, and move meat, and shake brains and all that, but upon reflection on this, and the set of all similar past events, and the set of potential future events, this day's events have added little to history.

History. Few act or think with regard to history. They deal with the past as a totem - they don't see it superpositioned with the present. They make a cake, then they eat it, and they boast about how great it is. Then they make another cake, and they do it all again. But they do not, when they eat the latter cake, experience it as a single mouthful with the former cake. Whereas in many things that I do, my memory is trained to compose them with relevant bits of the past, before I submit it to my consciousness. I wish more people did this, in general. I wish this were more of what popular culture calls, "a thing."

What does all this training give me? Very little, since of late, very little of my work has been authoritative social work. I have had many subordinate social roles in many organisations, or dominant technical roles. The limits of my social exercise at work come in the (extremely) common form thus, for example:

1. I see someone making a decision that I judge they will be likely to regret, months from now.
2. I warn them.
3. They acknowledge the warning, and decide to proceed as planned anyway.
4. I follow orders.
5. I begin preparing for their regret.
6. They arrive at their regret.
7. Heads roll. New orders arrive.
8. They reflect. They learn.
9. We have gentle discussions.
10. New decisions are made. I return to 1.

As little as interacting with the people around me (at work, and in life in general) contributes to my concerns, I do not, as some people do, allow this to nag me into seeking some sort of ephemeral ideal where I must surround myself with people who contribute to my concern. I merely acknowledge the facts, and pursue exercises to keep me in good shape for further socialising.

I wonder, if someday, all this socialising will become worthwhile.

No comments :

Post a Comment