Kramer doing a little TCB:
I recently switched jobs and started on a new software development project. It’s new but I’m working with a group of people who I’ve had a great experience with before, so I know what I’m getting into. I just came off a pretty bad two-year run in a project that was frustrating and rather unfulfilling. It was one of those work environments where the systems were not very advanced, end users were not thrilled, and we had a few clients that hated the contract so much that they actively worked against us. Just a horrible environment to work in.
In fact, my bad experience in this job actually worsened my depression and forced me to see a psychiatrist. This is when my social anxiety disorder was finally appropriately treated and I had a sea-change in my outlook. The depression started to fade away and I was able to deal with the vagaries of the job. So there was some good in the bad. But, things got to a point where I just had to move on, so I contacted some old co-workers and found out about this new project.
So, if you’re stuck in a bad job, don’t lose heart, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just put together your résumé, talk to some trusted ex-coworkers, see what’s out there and take your time finding the right place for you. Make sure you do some investigative work and find out what your potential new workplace is really like. Some early investigative work can save you a whole lot of pain and frustration down the road. Always know what you’re getting yourself into! Seems like it should be common sense, but we all forget that piece of advice from time to time.
As for me, I’m finally in a great work environment again and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.
I’m no longer a Christian but I’m still a big fan of The Chronicles of Narnia. I was practically raised on the books of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien took great pains to let everyone know that he wrote The Lord of the Rings with no allegorical intentions whatsoever. C.S. Lewis on the other hand was very open in declaring that his books were full of allusions to Christianity. But that doesn’t really bother me. Literature is a form of art and we can interpret art in many different ways. Also, Christians can write some very enthralling and entertaining fantasy fiction, I wonder why that is? (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
One of the ideas from the Chronicles of Narnia that keeps popping into my head again and again is the concept of “the silver chair”. The Silver Chair is the fourth book in the original (and correct) ordering of the series. In this tale, Aslan (a Christ-like figure in the series) transports the children Eustace and Jill to Narnia on a special mission to save Prince Rilian. Prince Rilian is the long missing heir to the throne of Narnia. Eustace and Jill eventually end up in the underground kingdom of the imaginatively named Queen of Underland (sorry Clive, had to take a shot at you there). When the kids arrive in the underground city the Queen is away for a bit and they meet a young man about the same age as Prince Rilian (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), serving at the right hand of this wicked witch. He tells a tale of the queen rescuing him from an evil enchantment and dines with the children.
Soon, the young man informs the children that he must be placed in restraints, for the enchantment still has a small hold on him. For an hour each day they restrain him, he succumbs to the spell, and becomes delirious. The queen in her grace and wisdom is using her magic to slowly purge him of these spells, but for now the queen’s servants come to restrain the young man and he willingly goes with them.
Introversion expert Susan Cain has written a great Op-Ed piece in the New York Times Sunday Review exploring introversion, groupthink, and the benefits of solitude. As a self-professed introvert, I found the piece compelling reading and I highly recommend it.
Here is an interesting excerpt:
People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure. The Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that when we take a stance different from the group’s, we activate the amygdala, a small organ in the brain associated with the fear of rejection. Professor Berns calls this “the pain of independence.”
The one important exception to this dismal record is electronic brainstorming, where large groups outperform individuals; and the larger the group the better. The protection of the screen mitigates many problems of group work. This is why the Internet has yielded such wondrous collective creations. Marcel Proust called reading a “miracle of communication in the midst of solitude,” and that’s what the Internet is, too. It’s a place where we can be alone together — and this is precisely what gives it power.
What happens when you step outside the normal boundaries of reality? What happens when you are forced out of your subjective consciousness and into a more objective view of the world? It turns out that what CAN happen is a deep communion with all living things and a deeper understanding of the true nature of reality.
Understanding? To what end? Peace of mind and the alleviation of suffering. Seeing things correctly in the abstract realm allows us to solve concrete problems.
I’m calling this collection of writings my “scientific awakening” but I could just as easily call it my “realization of the objective nature of reality” or something of the like. I say “scientific” mainly in reference to the objective nature of my (relatively) new understanding. The scientific process being the best tool the human race has discovered so far for solving complex problems and discovering the underlying processes that rule this universe. As it so happens, the human mind provides us with a highly subjective experience, an experience that cannot be properly understood without an eye to the objective realm. A realm that does not actually exist, but actually a realm that accurately describes everything that does exist.
Since I was a young child I have been thrust into countless situations where I have been ripped out of my subjective consciousness and into a heightened state of reality. The main catalyst for this was my undiagnosed Social Anxiety Disorder. This disorder of the mind often heightened the sensitivity of my subjective consciousness to the point where my mind was pushed somewhere else, seamingly into a completely different realm of reality. A place where I was constantly forced to ask WHAT is happening? WHY? Why do I feel like this? Why is this happening? These are questions I hid in my heart for a long time and the answers were a long time coming, but they have arrived and I will share some of the answers I have found in the hopes that they will help you, the reader. So I invite you to step outside of your highly subjective consciousness, if only for a short while.