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  • Thomas A. Wilson

From Hell to Hawaii

This blog is very personal. It may be too much information for some. Sorry, but for the ones that need it, this info is vital. The narrative begins simply enough: the visor in my Camry came loose. Instead of sitting snuggly against the ceiling of my car, the unit sagged and wobbled. While it bugged me, it still fulfilled its purpose—more or less.


I gave the unit a cursory inspection a couple of times but couldn’t see how to access the interior parts of the mounting bracket. The part, where visor mounted to ceiling, looked modular to me. Was it supposed to snap together? Was the plastic base broken? I vowed to dig deeper when I had the time. But I never thought about it unless I needed to use the visor, and, of course, that was when I was driving. This went on for several months.


One day, the entire apparatus fell off in my hand. That’s when I discovered that the device mounts with two Torx screws. The screws were hidden by a snap-on plastic trim piece. I remounted the visor is less than a minute. It took longer to find my driver than it did to conduct the repair. I learned that:


Sometimes things fall apart so you can see how they work.


This little object lesson points to a more traumatic story. Earlier in my life, I was part of an organization where I enjoyed a good reputation and substantial status. Since I’m a person of faith, it’s fair to say that I thought I was walking in God’s plan for my life. When the popular chief executive retired, the top spot in that organization became available. Many thought I was the heir-apparent. People prematurely voiced support and offered congratulations. I applied for the open position and prepared for the recruitment process like a man possessed.


When the dust settled, I was stunned to come in second. They chose a person from outside the organization. Shocked. Devastated. Confused. Heartbroken. Unless you’ve been there, you can’t really understand what a faith-shaker this was. But it was going to get worse. Much worse.


Shortly after my new boss on-boarded, much of the executive team that hired him retired. In other words, my supervisor, his supervisor, and that supervisor ‘s supervisor all changed. And all were recruited from outside the organization. The three organizational layers above me filled with strangers who had power, and they knew not Joseph, if you understand the ancient reference.


Things started to get ugly fast. My new boss didn’t get me at all. He systematically undermined my relationships with team members and he subjected me to public humiliations. I thought I had died and gone to hell. The details would fill a book, but I had dark thoughts. Please understand, I never for a moment entertained those thoughts, but I did wonder about suicide. I know that sounds shocking. These few paragraphs cannot contain the two years of misery I experienced. And to be clear, I love my God, wife, and family too much to do self harm, but have you ever been in so much psychological pain that you had those kinds of thoughts? I bet many readers have—and those that haven’t might yet still.


The administration eventually removed my dysfunctional boss. But the damage was done. Vocationally, I would never recover at that organization—I had to move on. What I learned, though, during that period was indispensable to my later success. I learned that, for me, Comfort was always available. I came to understand the Universe in ways that had not occurred to me before. To borrow from an earlier blog: there’s glory on the other side of pain. I also learned that next-level living demands awareness of shifting political domains.


If you’re like me, you want to adopt a plan, launch your vessel, and power through the waves until you arrive at your port of call. But life doesn’t always work that way. Instead, overcomers must be flexible. They must learn to surf the shifting waves of reality.


I’ve always been intrigued by the story of an ancient holy man who reportedly walked on water. The sacred text implies that he navigated both wind and waves in so doing. So, was he walking just above the top of the moving waves? That wouldn’t really be walking on water, would it? Was he walking in the troughs, with waves slapping his thighs and waist? That doesn’t seem very dignified to me. Or, instead, was he surfing the conditions with a smile on his face? That’s what I think happened.


I’m posting from Hawaii, one of the best surfing locales in the world. It’s my first visit, and it is glorious. (The beach at Lahaina is a lot better than my other office!) I hope every interested person gets the chance to experience Hawaii. You could say I landed on my feet after the tsunami of opposition rose against me. It's funny, but those very waves delivered me to a better place.


The Hawaiian Islands are volcanic. The bedrock that supports the fertile soil and verdant hills was literally born in smoke and heat. Isn’t it interesting that what some might describe as hellish conditions turned out to be little more than scaffolding for paradise?


So, later in this trip, maybe at the luau, I think I’ll meditate on how the Universe allows things to fall apart so you can see how they work, then inspires you to capture those life-lessons in a pretty good book, then enables you to go to Hawaii.


Aloha

MANerism:

Variety is a fascinating concept. It relates to a subcategory of people’s limbic tendency to flee. An aspect of fleeing is freezing. Biological computers, from rabbits to wildebeests, can freeze when threatened.


Consider the horrifying security video of an armed robbery in a convenience store. One standing patron froze, a limbic response for sure, when told to get on the floor. The gunman shot and killed the man because he did not comply. Odds are, the customer wasn’t trying to challenge the perpetrator; he just didn’t know what to do. He didn’t have a response mechanism to handle the atypical situation.


Likewise, computers sometimes freeze. When faced with input for which the device cannot cope, it locks up. In both animal and machine, variety is the flexibility necessary to handle whatever situation arises.


Affirmation of the Week: I maintain natural and good-natured awareness of political shifts so that I am routinely at the right place at the right time. I am aware, and I am flexible.

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