theoryofmind
My ultra-personal inner monologue

Mar
21

Here’s a farm boy from a small town, working in London for the biggest public broadcaster in the world.

Should I be impressed with how far I’ve come? Should I be satisfied with what I reached in the first 30 years?

Or should I be hungry for more. Should I be eager and ambitious to reach even more in the next three decades?

I’ve always been told to expect so much more of myself. Have I reached the unknown target? Or am I still falling short?

Mar
16

This reminds me very much of ‘The Art of War’ by Sun-Tzu. I’m still researching this list (I’m still reading through it), but it seems fascinating.

So far I can really identify with some of the rules, and I can see myself applying them daily. On the other hand I believe they have some of the rules dead wrong. The wrong ones are mostly those with their roots in cynicism – or worse – evil.

The 48 Laws of Power

Mar
13

Lunch today was great. Outside in the sun, sprawling on the grass. I never had lunch on the grass in South Africa.

This evening Jay phoned me on my back from work, and we decided to catch a movie. We had a great time, and it was lovely to just talk and relax a bit. After being asked I did complain about my manager a bit, but it’s good to verbalise my frustrations to someone at least.

After the film we chatted quite a lot about post-war Europe, and it was so wonderful to be taken seriously. That is perhaps the thing that frustrates me most at work: I’m not taken seriously, I am not believed, I am not acknowledged.

The name slips my mind, but one of the philosophers we studied at university suggested this as the ultimate form of denigration. Ignoring someone is the worst insult, it breaks down a person’s self.

Speaking to Jay tonight and seeing him listen to my viewpoint made me realise that all of my frustration boils down to the fact that my manager (and thus my team) does not value my input. She unfortunately values no ones input, so at least its not personal.

However, even knowing this makes it only just bearable. It is even more difficult for me (as opposed to some other people on the team) because this is my career. Some of my colleagues are only assistants or helping out or not directly involved.

I’m sure she means well, but it is killing my soul that she micromanages every little thing I do – right down to my daily tasks. Give me a goal or an objective and let me get on with it. Don’t redo all my work in your style and tell me what to do every morning.

I need to get out from under this suffocating hen.

Mar
13

It’s amazing how one can still keep in touch with old, old friends half a world away.

I have just finished reading an email from my old school love, and it’s been more than a decade since we broke up. We used to see one another occasionally, but the last time was more than three years ago now.

The last time we saw each other she was getting married, and would move down to a small coastal city and was basically out of work. Now she’s running a small recruitment firm and busy with her MBA and busy buying a smart oversized SUV. An expensive SUV.

She’s excited by it, and her enthusiasm is contagious. Although honestly, I am always a sucker for enthusiasm – despite the draining I am experiencing at work at the moment.

Of course, this impressed me no end as I thought of the little girl I used to know, and how we’ve grown up since school. Some of my peers – like this ex – are doing very well, and I immediately felt a pang of self pity because I am not driving around in a big, smart, expensive SUV.

Should I be impressed with it. Should I worry about not being ahead in the money game? Should I be more concerned with money than anything else, as all my friends seem to be?

Surely money is important – or rather the lack of money is important. In my line of work I have not made piles of cash, and to be honest it’s sometimes quite hard for us. We always have food, but we don’t nearly have all the luxuries other people our age seem to have.

After a minute or two of musing on my own financial shortcomings, I remembered that I definately am ahead on some fronts.

This old flame of mine, for example, don’t have children yet. Even more sadly, she’ll never be able to have children. So there she is, in her lovely four wheel drive, all big and empty. Surely my lovely family counts for something?

I might not have a lot of money, but I am rich in love.

Mar
11

I’m ever more disillusioned with the church. I realise I’m not the first person ever to feel this way, but I was really trying very hard to enjoy our church.

On this beautiful Sunday morning we have some family here. Although not conservative, they are decidedly less liberal than I am, especially when it comes to religion. The whole family is preparing for church, but I dread going.

The main break for me came about three weeks ago when we had one of our regular guest speakers. He was discussing the parable of the three servant who each received some talents, but the one with the least amount also did the least. He buried it and gave his master back the single talent he had received, only to be beaten and chased out by the master. The two other servants each doubled their talents.

My concern about this is the total lack of understanding modern people give to the context of a story like this. In my student days I did some work for the Theology Department at university, and I read a column on exactly this parable and how it could be interpreted differently.

In a consumer-driven capitalistic society the interpretation would be that a servant (slave) should extract maximum value from the talents given to him. However, in Jesus’ time their view of economics were quite different to our modern Western views.

They had a zero-sum view of economics. In other words, for me to make money I need to take it off someone else. Put another way, I can only increase my riches if I make someone else poorer. This is quite contrary to what Jesus taught, isn’t it?

Perhaps the parable should we interpreted in a different way, but we’re so caught up in our own very special (and always correct) way of interpreting it that we can’t see it any other way.

Then again, we do have enough social freedoms that we can decide what we want to say and where we want to say it. Perhaps I’m just averse to any kind of religious fervour?

Whatever the theological case, from a practical point of view I’m still anxious. Perhaps I’m merely embarrassed.

Mar
06

He might hate people reading over his shoulder on the train, but at least he has some positive points as well.

For one, he lives in a continual state of pseudo mid-life crises. Growing up with constant reminders about how intelligent and special and remarkable he is, he persistently believes that he’s under performing, that he has not yet achieved enough, that he could be doing so much more.

One of his saving graces is that he doesn’t equate success with money, as a lot of his peers do. Well, as a lot of his peers did. He removed himself from that environment to one where there are more important measures of success.

Would he ever be successful enough? The question burns him, and would probably always be answered with a concrete and rigid ‘No!’

You can’t win if there are no goal post except for the ever-receding horizon.

Mar
02

I remember a teacher whistling in astonishment in front of my whole class when he read my IQ. I was 10 at the time. I remember my father’s repeated depressions, apparently brought on by the knowledge that his son was even more intelligent than he was, which we learned when I was 7. My first ever memory is from a flat we moved out of when I was about 14 months old. I talked in sentences when I was 14 months, and I walked when I was nine months.

My whole childhood was spent listening to people telling me I could be whatever I wanted to be. Primary school saw me winning book prizes – the only boy on stage between a sea of do-good girls. I sailed through high school, academic top 10 every semester for all the years, distinctions, leadership awards, sports awards, honours in culture, sport, academics and leadership. All of this without practising or studying a single iota.

Mar
01

A shocking discussion with my boss today. Her husband – moderately successful in corporate spheres – only ever sees his young daughter over weekends. For five days a week he’s out before she’s awake, and he returns after she’s put to bed, so that he only sees her two days a week.

I’m am now semi depressed with this thought. He has suggested to his wife that she moves out of the public sector and find a better paying job. I’ll grant you they have enough money for regular ski trips, a full time nanny, and their daughter will probably go to a boarding school as soon as possible where she will have a pony and be groomed for public school.

Together with this I’m reading a novel written by a someone whom I admire. Cory Doctorow is not much older than I am, and published his first book at the age I am now. I love the fact that he admits to calling himself a novelist since age 12 but only got to publishing when he was in his early thirties.

His protagonist (for want of a better word) is a child prodigy who is born to argue. In a way Cory admits to the novel being semi-autobigraphical, and I can also relate to the lead character as a boy. It also bears somewhat of a resemblence to the brilliant ‘Ender’s Game’ by Orson Scott-Card, with which I could also relate.

Have I lived up to all the expectations people have always had of me?

Feb
22

What a shocking morning for me. It started out with a discussion of the on-line petitions, specifically the road tax and other issues. It quickly became an unsettling encounter with racism.

On the way to work I met a respected man fro our community. He is at least a decade or more older than we are, and quiet an upstanding member of our small community. On odd occasions he would need to go into London and we would meet on the train. He has managed to amass a fortunte in the financial service industry, but has also overcome great personal difficulty within his own family.

Both Kay and myself have tremendous respect for them, and the community as a whole look up to them with no small matter of awe.

This all contributed to the unexpected shock I experienced when we started discussing another sensitive issue on the e-petition website: the building of the £100 million mosque in London. Being from South Africa I immediately tried to see the positive side, and mentioned all the work that will be created in such a massive project.

‘Oh that’s nice and positive of you,’ he laughed with irony. ‘I was just wondering where they’ll store their knives or learn to build their bombs.’

This completely threw me. My initial reaction was that I’m being tested, but when he continued with one or two more remarks in the same vein I realised he was openly joking about the extremist tendencies fo some Muslim communities.

In South Africa being less racist would still be regarded as criminal in the eyes of the law. This kind of generalisation and blind blaming of a group based on the abhorrent actions of a small minority would have been publicly condemned in South Africa.

This has led me to wonder about the famous English tolerance. They are publicly tolerant, but then turn around and blame the objects of their tolerance.

Feb
15

It has been a good day at work. I dreaded today initially because I was literally booked solid with meetings for the whole day, but they have all been (mostly) constructive and productive.

The best was the lunchtime brainstorm we had planning a new project. It’s amazing to be involved with such a creative process, even though I was somewhat intimidated at times. This project will also improve the lives of millions of people, so it really feels worthwhile being involved with it.

I’ve been doing some more research for a while now on getting into British politics. At first I completely discounted it, as I am not (yet) a citizen, but I was heartened quite early on in my more formal research.

It turns out our MP was born and raised in New Zealand. Obviously he must be a citizen now, and he’s probably been here for a pretty long time, but it still means there might be hope for my aspirations.

Another positive point was the fact that most MP’s seem to come from a very diverse range of backgrounds. Not a lot of them are political science majors who specialise in politics from the outset of their careers. In fact our MP used to be a dentist, and it appears that most MPs need these different backgrounds to bring extra skills to the political arena.

I’ve always had a fascination with statecraft, and my highly intellectual upbringing probably just honed my natural instincts. Growing up in a liberal and politically active home kept me interested, and we had continual philosophical debates to which everyone was subjected. A degree in philosophy also contributed, but it could even be seen as the culmination of what came before it.

These discussions frequently remind me of my school principle who predicted that I would go into politics. At the time I was inwardly very pleased, but outwardly disgusted.

It has never been my intention to become embroiled in South African politics. As a young white male I could see it as either truly advantageous or terminally dangerous, but I’ve always thought it more lethal than worthwhile.

However, in this new country I’m much more inclined to revisit my original intentions. A career in politics would suit me perfectly, although I think my family needs me more at home for the moment. My hope is to become more active in a couple of years when I am not bound so much to my home life.

Once again it seems I’m not picking the best paying industry…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.