Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 191, July 2015)
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Why is it that we have to make everything so complicated?
My new, high-tech water cooler has a digital clock in the front. You have to bend over where the tap is to see it, but why would I want to know the time when I'm getting a drink of water, and why would I go to a water cooler to find out what time it is?
Every hotel television now requires that you make seven choices before you can, well, simply watch TV. The thermostats require an engineering degree. What happened to "on, off, temperature"? The room keys open the door, the mini-bar, the elevator floor, the health club, the pool entrance—and also demagnetize if they're near a credit card, which of course none of us ever carry.
I received an instructional video with my swimming pool robot. To apply what I've learned, I have to keep running out to the pool and back, 50 yards away. The owner's manual for my car resembles the three-month countdown for a manned Mars mission. My watch is, apparently, able to do things that no one would ever want done. I've never found the phases of the moon or the time in Dakar to be useful during my average day.
There are a dozen different skin and hair treatments that stylists recommend, not as alternatives, but as complementary. I'd have to pack a second bag to check through to my destination for all my accoutrements. All of my TVs can record and play back on all the other TVs, both Cox Cable and DirecTV, and can be programmed from my iPad anywhere in the world. Except when they can't.
To program my garage door I have to get a ladder, open the motor unit, press a button, race back to my car, hold down two buttons, watch for the correct number of flashes….you get the idea. I'm asked with an order of a gin and tonic six questions: type of gin; type of tonic; type or garnish; type of glass; on the rocks or up; shaken or stirred? I could have a glass of wine while I struggle through the choices.
To play fetch, I throw something—anything—and Bentley runs after it and returns it. When he's through, he simply doesn't come back. See below.
The human condition: Retrieval
I've learned that playing fetch requires two performers: the fetcher, hereafter called "Bentley," and the person throwing the fetchable entity (FE), hereafter called "Alan."
Alan notifies Bentley that they will be playing fetch when he brings one of Bentley's Frisbees outside. He notifies Bentley that they are done when he carries it back inside.
Bentley notifies Alan that they will be playing fetch when he finds one of the large sticks or other FE he's collected and drops it on Alan's feet. He notifies Alan when he's done by refusing the return the FE.
We tend to take too much for granted. We don't inform others of what our true intent or desires are. (This applies very much in relationships.) There is no FE to automatically cue the other. We need to make our intent clearer.
There is also a difficulty terminating activities, especially when pleasurable. We wind up getting hurt by playing the game past our tolerance point, or add too much stress pursuing goals already attained. We are reluctant to say, "Enough," to friends and family. We don't walk out on a bad play, don't return a bad meal, don't terminate a bad relationship.
It may sound overly simple, but I'd suggest that you find ways to effectively and obviously inform others of your intent, and have the intestinal fortitude and discipline to stop when you've had enough. If a dog can communicate all that, so can you.
In other words, when you've had enough, just don't bring the Frisbee back.
I was staying in an enormous suite in a London hotel, and the light switches in England always confound me. They have to be pushed in the "opposite" direction, or the outlet has to be activated with a separate switch, or they're on timers. I thought I would take an afternoon nap to overcome some jet lag, pulled all the drapes, and managed to get all the lights out except for one massive overhead fixture in the bathroom.
I tried every combination of lights in the adjacent rooms and in the bathroom, and in every possible configuration. I finally called reception.
"Which light is troubling you, sir?"
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Don't follow the advice of anyone who hasn't actually done what you seek to do. With the best of intentions, they are inferior sources, and with the worst of intentions they are con artists.