Wednesday, July 9, 2014

(not) east to the Netherlands

Passengers-are-evacuatedMy plan was to head to the Netherlands after the Tour de France, a sprint drive arriving by midnightIt’s been a very long time since I was last east of the Channel, and my work was stacking up: design reviews, legal and accounting meetings, tax filings.  Maastricht has suffered a bunch of storms recently, and I’d also been told that there was significant water damage to one wall of the apartment.  Lovely.

I was driving off onto the exit to the Channel Tunnel when BBC cut in to say that there were seven hour delays in crossing to Calais from Folkstone.

Too late: I was already embedded into a long line of cars and trucks with no exit back onto the motorway.  Drivers passed rumors up and down the line: a train collision, a fire in the tunnel (actually, it was a power failure).  A truck driver had a disagreement with the passenger car line inching past him and edged over to block the lane; the police arrived to untangle the dispute. 

My new-found ‘it can wait’ attitude would have suggested immediately turning back towards Poole to try another day.  But I wasn’t going anywhere, quickly.

An hour passed: I did a little reading:

  • Lakewood AppleseedOn the home front was an article passed to me by a friend about a familiar artwork. 

I was born in Lakewood, Ohio: the High School was adorned with a huge terracotta sculpture of Johnny Appleseed over the entrance to the Auditorium.   Appleseed (John Chapman) was a legendary nurseryman who, around 1800, walked the Midwestern US, and especially future Ohio, planting orchards. As homage to the settlers, the image “Early Settler” was created as civic art, although the school board thought it was ‘too eccentric’ to grace a public building. 

In any case, it’s in need of restoration, and the community is seeking funds.

  • New-FeminismThird Wave Feminism is a version of women’s rights that came into practice during the past 20 years.  Its been a tricky movement for me to understand: First Wave in the 19th and early 20th century dealt with basic human equality and voting rights while the Second Wave in the 60s and 70s addressed social and economic equality.  The Third Wave was described as ‘post-colonial and post-modern’, not very helpful.

I found a really good article by Clare Snyder that made much more sense.  She described how the new movement is both more individual (greater individual expression) and more universal (greater inclusiveness), less overtly political and judgmental, while still building on ideas of empowerment and opportunity.

It’s interesting to reflect on: I can see clear roots of my attitudes about gender equality and balanced partnership in the Second Wave, yet observe how my daughter’s attitudes stand clearly in the Third.  The 80’s contradictions about how to think about men, capitalism, or women outside of the first world are ones that I similarly struggled to fit into my thinking over the years, and the intellectual resolutions are intriguing. 

I don’t pretend to have more than a novice insight into the topic, but it was a very generative article with lots to think about.

  • I-love-workOn a lighter note, Lucy Kellaway debated whether we should feel ‘passionate’ about our work, vs. perhaps just liking it or finding it fulfilling.  I found two thought-worthy aspects of the essay.

One involved the perceptions of expressing emotions at work.  In general, emotional displays are perceived negatively by co-workers, reflections of personal issues or lack of self-control that is inappropriate for the office.  However, if emotions were described as a result of passion for one’s work, then they were seen much more positively.  ‘

Good to remember the next time I get elated or frustrated (or weep over a failed PowerPoint, as Lucy relates).

The other involved the difference between ‘Harmonious’ and ‘Obsessive’ passions, as described by Robert Vallerand. Harmonious Passions are a "significant but not overwhelming part of our identity”, things we love but can ultimately leave.  Obsessive Passions are those in which our level of performance during the activity drives self-esteem and identity.

Harmonious = beneficial: Obsessive = toxic.  ‘Worth remembering the next time I get too wrapped up in work and need a bit of perspective on my broader life.

An hour and a half passed, the lines inched forward, and I finally reached the ticket booth.  I’ll come back another day, I told the agent, feeling Wise, Balanced, and Harmonious.  He smiled and handed me a coupon and re-booking instructions and directed me out a side exit. 

Truck spill M11It could have been worse.  The M11 had been closed for two days by a chemical spill the day before.  As it was, I was back in Poole just after sunset.

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