Been thinking a lot about obligations lately. What you owe to colleagues, family, friends, society – why and how the calculations are made. Fortunately, when I get caught in a very sticky problem I have a hierarchy of defense mechanisms that kick in:
- Invariably I start by talking it out. Haven’t met a problem yet I couldn’t talk to death.
- If/when rigor mortis fails to set in (some problems are zombies), I start researching. Surely someone somewhere has done a meta analysis of all the research and possible solutions. Which I can then adopt.
- If the problem refuses to yield to the sheer weight of expert opinion, I then try to translate it into a formula in the hopes of discovering rules. The formula stage is usually evidence that the problem is either long-term or I truly have no clue.
Currently, I’m working on a formula for “Obligations”.
Everyone has some version of the “me & mine” mindset that would kick in during times of natural disaster, revolution, or Armageddon, but other assorted obligations shift and change over time.
Some of these obligations are steel cables from the past, subterranean and invisible until some event pulls them taut. And that is the formula I can’t quite work out. How much does the past obligate me in the present?
I have managed to climb very far from where I started in life. Some family & friends who were there with me have not. Calls from that past come more infrequently now but the steel cable of obligation reels me in so quickly its staggering.
Some twisted sense of survivors guilt, plus my mother’s catholic (guilt) training, makes saying no almost an impossibility. Someone else always has it worse. Your success means you share and help.
Thankfully my long-suffering and understanding husband has a more realistic perspective that keeps me from going into debt to float people as I have in the past.
It’s hard to be on either end of that cable.
I usually have an image or song at the end of my posts, and I was tempted to put a photo of Richard Harris from his famous scene in “A Man Called Horse”, but that’s a bit dark even for me. So instead I leave you with 3 minutes and 30 seconds bittersweet by an under appreciated and brilliant artist you should check out if this is the only song of his you are familiar with.