Timing

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It will come as no surprise to anybody who knows me that control is very dear to me. Control of one’s passions, control of one’s words, and actions, and really, pretty much everything else that can be controlled. As an aside, I find it beyond bewildering being upset at things not under our control. I don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, take a detached view of the world, I fight and fight hard for the things I believe can be influenced, I just don’t see much point in fighting the weather, so to speak (now, influencing said weather is another matter entirely and I am not opposed to doing so).

The thing with control though is that much of it depends on time, and even more of it depends on timing, so that’s what I will focus on today. Time is necessary to learn control, to learn what can be controlled, to practice gaining and keeping and relinquishing control when one needs to. Serenity prayer, anyone? 🙂

Timing is more difficult. Most of us, certain in our own mortality, still manage to plan (i.e. to assume that we will have enough time to get where we want to). And when it comes to ourselves, in most cases, in this part of the world called the first, we have that time. We buy it with medicine, and education, and relationships.

But timing does not depend only on us. It is not only ourselves that need to be taken into account, nor just our wishes, nor indeed our actions alone. Timing includes someone else’s time, and sometimes the time of the age we live in. It’s what we mean when we say “life (or s**t) happens”.

A financial crisis, a war, an illness… many things can crumble plans, and the control these plans imply. We are often too isolated, we believe ourselves too small to influence these big things. But they are not the weather. We should fight, and fight hard, to influence them, human or not as they are. And we do, with medicine, and education, and relationships.

We are not all teachers. We are not all doctors or scientists or in charge of financial institutions. But we can all have relationships. And if timing can come into its own, it is on the relationships that we need to focus our individual efforts. And by timing I mean making choices. Simple ones, like not saying the bad words we want to say. More difficult ones, like standing our ground when we could just go with the flow. And difficult ones, like acting on the values we hold dear rather than the things we believe in.

I have discussed my view of control in another article on this blog. See, control is not just reining in, a force that is restrictive of freedom.Control can be passive and neutral, negative, or positive in that it allows action. Sometimes going through life (or the s**t described above) is control enough for powering a small country. Sometimes life seems out of control, depending on which tooth of the tiger sinks into which sensitive piece of our flesh. Our abused children, our bullied youth, our neglected elders, the sick and the maimed, have enough on their hands just to make it through to another sunrise.

But if we are well, and whole, and reasonably functional… what is then our excuse?

Force

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I’ve been banging about things like actions and consequences for a while. It’s about time I was talking of the force going through that whole continuum. I am talking of motives, of course. I guess you may have thoughts without a motive, but it’s difficult to have voluntary action without motive. The root of the word comes from Latin and it implies movement in a causative way. It is sometimes confused with intent, probably because it is the force that moves the intent into action. Indeed, it seems to bypass planning and choice but once the decision is made (based on said intent) it is in its element with actions as its tools.

So if the intent is to stay alive and a lion is charging, once you have sifted through the available choices (fight, flight, freeze etc.) and you have made your decision, your motive will implement that action to obtain the consequence intended. I would probably choose fighting after an initial freeze, but that’s just me 🙂

Motivation seems to be linked to survival as that is usually linked to action. And survival expectations do go down severely if motivation is missing. This is not so obvious nowadays, when we have several safety nets to catch us should our motivation falter, but it hasn’t always been like this. And out of all the frustrating traits people exhibit lack of motivation is probably very high on the ladder because we see their survival being in danger.

We admire dilligence, ambition, activity because neither of those is possible without motivation. We dislike laziness, procrastination and apathy because we catch that whiff of danger. We also find it very difficult to slow down, meditate, pray, consider and even sleep. Because we equate moving with being alive (originally it mostly was, our predators were faster, stronger and had senses significantly more acute than us; freezing wasn’t really an option).

Once survival is assured motivation doesn’t just disappear into thin air. It’s a force, so once you have it (barring illness, certain drugs etc.) you can use it. It’s not really blind force, either, although it can be bent in many directions. It exerts a pull towards what interests you once survival is not an issue. This pull is what makes life sweet when you do whatever it is that floats your boat.

Say you have a really nice job working for the man. It pays good money. It is something you are good and skilled at. You may have a company car, flexible hours, nice perks. Come Friday you leave it all behind and, if you’re smart, you get a life. The motivation provided by all those nice things does not normally extend to the weekend. Motivation is an economically efficient force, it won’t expend that energy when there is no need for it.

But say you are a scientist and you have a theory. No funding, obviously, until you have something to go on. Tell me, do you notice weekends as anything else other than time to get the experiments set up and running? Or researching what has already been done. Or pulling your hair out because it doesn’t work your way? Or resenting the day job because it takes you away from whatever it is you are trying to do?

Hm… sounds like motivation doesn’t really care about money and perks and holidays etc. Nice to have, don’t get me wrong… just wondering if societal rules don’t get too restrictive at one point, you know?