On the top floor deck of a sky scraper, a man leans over to the guy next to him at the bar.
“What do I do? I’m a flight instructor. In fact, most people don’t know it, but there’s a current of air rushing up from the 10th floor outside this building, and it’s so strong you can actually ride it all the way back up to that balcony.”
“You don’t believe me.”
He puts down what is his third Manhattan. “$20 says I’m right.”
“You’re on.” He takes out a twenty and wraps it around his knuckle. His neighbor had not counted on this place for watchable weirdos – twenty free bucks plus blog fodder!
Strolling over to the balcony, the flight instructor climbs right up the railing, standing on a wide beam, and points to the street below. “The current kicks in right at the level of that walkway to the left. To the right is the splat spot.”
His neighbor, now mildly interested, turns away from the bar just in time to see his new acquaintance crouch and give him a hold-my-drink look. Without hesitation, he sproings overt the railing in a perfect arc. It’s only a few steps from the end of the bar to the balcony, and in a moment he can watch the figure swan dive straight down, eventually slowing at, yes, the level of the ped walkway. Next thing, dude actually swoops like a logo and back up into the air, and now here stands back on the edge of the beam.
With one motion, he hops over the railing and fwisks the twenty. “Like I said.”
They go back and forth for a while, making new bets, and maybe it’s a heavy pour place, maybe it’s just a really weird thing to see, but at some point, they trade places.
But of course, this time, Splat.
The bartender lines up Manhattan #4. “Superman, you are such an asshole.”
I think of this joke when I watch people who are really good at planning events, keeping track of schedules, reading other people, and staying focused.
Sometimes I can do a little of what they do with seeming ease, but usually it takes me a huge amount of effort. Sometimes it seems like I am going to soar, but frequently, Splat.
Most awfully, I am just as surprised with either outcome.
Another reason this joke comes to mind has to do with blame. The bastards at the Arbinger Institute know what I’m talking about here. They wrote “Leadership and Self-Deception,” and one of the patterns pointed out there is the habit of blaming others for your own mistakes, shortcomings, whatever.
This Alt-Superman has set the whole thing up. There is no way to not blame him for what happens. And that is a relief. Because in real life, it can be really hard to see when I’m blaming other people for my own mistakes.
This habit can show up individually, or societally. I just started reading Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and one of the many interesting clarifications the author makes is about the sequence of racist ideas, and how they follow acts of oppression, not the other way around, as we all tend to assume.
When I think about my own patterns, the ones I would really rather not think about, I totally recognize a similar sequence: Shit happens – I make a mistake, or some interaction goes sideways, and I don’t take the time to accept it, and to identify my part in it.
Instead, I sneakily set about arranging my interpretation of things so that I can more comfortably live with the problem.
If you recognize yourself here, I think you’re going to want to create a regular space of solitude and reflection in your daily life where you can slow down the pace of your decisions.
And then keep doing that.
I have a recipe I have been using and adjusting for about a year now, and at first I called it The Three Tuitions, because it was given to me by a friend a long time ago and he used that term.
Since then, I have adjusted it a lot, and I am starting to call it The Dawn Hour Cure. Same idea – new grandiose name! Check it out here, and let me know how you like it. Like this page, or send me an email at email@example.com.
My twitter handle is @adhdwhatnext.