Thursday, July 28, 2005

Holding truth

It is the Eastern sensibility, not the Western way, that values the ability to hold opposing truths in the mind, unresolved. Whether east or west, I cannot say, but it is wisdom to know one’s own place in the world.

And with this in mind, I face tomorrow’s dreaded performance review, trying my best to keep in the forefront of my mind that work is more than a job, that each one of us has unique gifts, and that—occasionally—we find ourselves in the right time and the right place for our peculiar set of unique capabilities to find right expression. And then, that time is past, and we move on, in search of the next fertile field, though whether it is opportunity to exercise fine-honed skills or an opportunity to contribute in a startlingly new way, we know not. Saying goodbye is always hard, and still we trust that God would not require that forward momentum unless—at some level—we were ready.

Who was it, some French guy (Hugo? Baudelaire?), who had that beautiful turn of phrase? Something like God does not make fruit grow so heavy that the branch breaks under its weight. A beautiful sentiment, and yet any observer of nature knows it not to be true. The truth is that we are tested every day in small ways and large, challenged to keep becoming what we are meant to be. Paradoxically, the more we rise to that challenge, the more we understand the degree to which we fall short.

The two conversations within a conversation within a review that I need to have tomorrow are these:

I am different from you. In Briggs-Meyers terms, I am an INFP, statistically rare and led to express my Healer/Idealist in a harsh, foreign world of economics and commerce. Who came up with this bad joke? And yet it is my world and it is the gift I have been given. Or lent. The opposing truth: I am just like you.

I am the right person for this particular job only for a time. Maybe this is the time, or maybe the time is already past. There will come a time when what you need is a crack administrator or a true visionary or maybe just someone to clean up the mess. I don’t know and I won’t know...because then my time will have passed. Has it already? Time is eternity, time is this moment, both these things are true.

And in the background I can already hear middle age’s sad refrain: it is half over, even if—perhaps—the better half is yet to come. You are at the peak of your capacity to deliver on your unique gifts. From here to the grave, you, Karen, must be prepared that the skill set you have worked so hard to develop will be valued in some venues and not in others, that your own cognitive abilities will at some point start to decline. You will probably be unaware of that soft, slow slide back into the collective unconscious. So, now, today before the genetic markers are called in, take a moment and be grateful for your life to date.

Tomorrow, we will do it all over again.


Jean said...

So beautifully resonant, so quietly wise. If your employers don't agree, then it will indeed be time to move on.

Visual-Voice said...

Beautifully written. We share the INFP label, and yes, it's a unique one. Working in the arts, you'd think it would be an easy time, being INFP. Certainly, it must be easier than in the financial world, but so few really "get" us. Strange, aloof, sensitive... I feel like I kind of float below the radar a lot of the time... although this can have it's benefits... we go undetected sometimes.

good luck tomorrow. If you fall off the branch, then perhaps it means the branch is to weak to support all of your talent... ?

andy said...

As a borderline INFP/INFJ in a business/engineering role, I too resonate with what you say, to borrow Jean's term. And to pick up on the comment from vis voice, one of the frustations of that type can be knowing that we hold something of value, yet finding that value unrecognised and uncomprehended by those around us.

Linda McCullough said...

Do you know about: Plant A Row for the Hungry? It is a project of the Garden Writer's Association to get surplus garden food to people who need it.

Your "Holding Truth" is a beautiful piece. You are right about the fruit on the branches.