Wednesday, June 6, 2012

As Fast As I Can

Something very strange happened last week. It wasn’t UFO strange, meteor falling through the sky strange, animal with two heads strange….but nonetheless it was strange and of course….I took the opportunity to stretch it into a metaphor for life.

Grab your coffee, recline your chair and sit back….this is a long one.

I was driving down the highway, my husband in the passenger seat, the speed limit marked as 100km per hour. My 2003 Chevy Impala loves to go fast and after all these years, we know each other so very well. I set the cruise control at 100km per hour and head for home. It was dark out, there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the highway and I was scanning the ditches for animals (deer seem to love to jump out at the last moment).

About 5 minutes into the trip…..

Glancing down at my gauges, I notice that my speed has decreased to 80 (which was strange when you are cruise control) and so I responded by depressing the gas pedal a little further, using a little more force.

Picture the following thought bubble here: That’s strange……I feel like I am going faster, but my speedometer is now reading 60km per hour.

What the hell is happening? Am I suffering some kind of stroke? Have I been thrust into an alternate time and space? Did my friends put something in my coffee?

My sensory system is telling me that I am traveling 100km per hour (or more at this point), but my eyes are seeing 60km on the speedometer and transmitting that information to my brain.

We are clearly experiencing a malfunction at the junction…but which junction? My mind is racing with the possibilities, not least of all that I am losing my mind. Am I about to be sucked into a black hole? 

The speedometer is dropping further now and I depress the gas pedal in response. The gauges do not respond. We are now whizzing down the highway, the tree-line zooming past and my brain once again tries to rationalize the situation.

I FEEL like I am going faster and faster, but my speedometer is saying that I am going slower and slower.

Glancing over at my husband, I am looking for any sign that something is really and truly wrong with me.

“How fast do you think we are going?” I say in a panicked voice.

“Pretty fast!” he responds (checking his seatbelt)

“My speedometer is saying that I am only going 40km per hour!!! What is going on?” I say…in a very concerned tone.

“I think it must be broken because you are obviously going very, very, verrrrry fast and you should perhaps SLOW down!” he exclaims, bringing his seatback into the upright position.

Can this be true? Can your speedometer just die like that?

I take my foot off the gas pedal and the car begins to slow. Coincidentally, the speedometer now begins a steady freefall, bouncing along until it finally rests at zero.

The speedometer has clearly crapped out on my 2003 Impala.

A part of me is still questioning. It is like when someone tells you it is raining and it clearly is not raining. A part of you wants to believe that it actually is raining…to trust in what the person says…..why would they lie? We have been programmed to trust.

We have been programmed to trust that darn speedometer.

My first instinct was to question myself. My first instinct was to trust a machine over my own sense of reality.

What does that say about me?

This isn’t the first time that my trust has been misplaced…misguided.

Is it my upbringing? The generation I belong to?

Thank goodness I wasn’t flying an aircraft or performing surgery.

Over the past couple of days I have come to the following conclusion:

·   When all else fails (and sometimes it does), you have to rely on yourself, your instincts.

·   Learn that it is okay to question.

·   NOTHING is infallible…..everything and everyone can make a mistake.

·   Trust in yourself



Nancy J. Zavada, CMP said...

I can't think of any better advice. Leave it to a Chevy Impala (my high school car) to teach us a lesson!

The Green-Eyed Event Planner said...

Thanks Nancy! Trusting in ourselves can be difficult. So many factors come into play: self confidence and inner strength. I believe that it can be the difference between someone who leads and someone who follows. Questioning and challenging the status quo also comes from trust.

As for the car.... is almost time to retire the ol' impala and I have been resisting it because I love it! It goes sooooo fast!


Mitchell Beer said...

You love it because it goes soooo fast...except that then it tells you it isn't really! And then you have to decide whether to believe your trusty advisor or your own lyin' eyes.

Judy, if you'll permit me to stretch the metaphor a bit farther, I can't think of a better way to describe our industry's rush to declare itself fully sustainable, the whole job done and the battle won, so that we can mightily check the check-box and move on. Our eyes tell us that we've barely scratched the surface on the big issues like carbon, energy, water, and waste. We know that even some of the smaller stuff, like hotel linen programs, rarely works as advertised. But then, but then, but then...the latest press release says that facility, destination, or meeting really is sustainable, and we were sure the speedometer was working the last time we checked. At least, they told us it was.

At that point, the two crucial issues are what to believe and how to broach the question. You may not have to toss the car, but at very least, the two of you have to get some agreement on the metrics you want to use.

The Green-Eyed Event Planner said...

Mitchell, I love the metaphor! and you are so very right.

Questioning is critical and we need to always be asking, challenging.


justin locke said...

well judy this is a big issue for me, the dismantling of individual judgement is not an accident in my opinion, it's part of what i call "classroom conditioning." the default in most education systems is for us to systematically trained to look to outside superior authority, i suppose like dorothy in the wizard of oz. recognizing that the reflex habit of not trusting one's own perceptions is not a shameful individual failing, but is in fact an intended result of traditional large scale education, is perhaps part of instituting the fix. just my opinion. best, jl

The Green-Eyed Event Planner said...

Thanks for the comment Justin and I apologize for the slow response.

You make very good points and perhaps we have been trained that way through our education system and society.

I was really frustrated at my personal response (trust reflex) when the speedometer failed and i have been thinking about it since.

It is a topic that merits further conversation.