Sunday, May 1, 2011

On the Margins

I generally don't post on Sundays, but given the outages in communications over the last week I have the urge to enjoy being able to write while I can.

I was doing a little rearranging in my office, and I came across a milk crate shoved in the back of my closet that had all my old notebooks and folders from college in it. While I would love to say that I kept all that shit from seven years ago because I'm a super-genius and saw the zombie plague coming even then, and hoarded my carefully written notes against future need, the truth is that I'm just a terrible packrat.

However accidental it might be that I kept them, the notes themselves are interesting and possibly helpful. In the margins of pages and on sheet after sheet of notebook space, I wrote hundreds of little facts and tips about the various subjects I studied in college. The majority of them have to do with urgent treatment, emergency care, and fire/rescue, since that was my main area of study. I'd forgotten how many interesting tidbits my instructors had passed on to me. Things that might make the difference between life and death in an emergency.

With the zombies roaming outside our walls, our lives are now a continuous state of emergency.

Then I came across my folder for my Geology class. I've always been a science nerd, but I avoided hard science classes in college because at the time my workload was already almost too heavy to bear. In fact, I only took Geology because I was going to be a credit short of graduating, having miserably failed an art history class online. Damn teacher assigned the wrong book.

At any rate, I ended up really enjoying the class. The teacher had three or four degrees, and a deep love of science. He was also a very dedicated and devout Christian, which lead to some interesting discussions in class. Mike, our teacher, loved to give example after example of why science and religion have zero actual disagreement on how the universe and everything in it formed. Mike's lectures were a huge part of my own unique view on religion, the universe, and everything.

I was flipping through the pages of that folder when a hastily scrawled note in a margin caught my attention. It said, and I quote, "Huge earthquake in southeast Ky decades overdue. We're all gonna die."

I read that, and I laughed. I began to vaguely recall the class in which Mike discussed some huge fault line in Kentucky that was a catastrophe waiting to happen. I remembered that I thought about that potential disaster often in the months after, then less frequently over time.

Since The Fall, I've thought about it little if at all.

And that's important, I think. Human beings have a certain upper limit for how much they can worry about things. When the priorities of your life shift from worrying if there will be enough money in your checking account to buy gas to worrying if that sound you heard was a dead person intent on biting you to death, your priorities have to shift.

The best way I can describe it is by sheer practicality. We worry about growing food, protecting ourselves, the movements of the undead, and the like because those are things that we have some measure of control over. We can do things to affect the outcome. With the weather or potential earthquakes or whatever the impending DOOM may be, we're helpless. No amount of worrying or thinking about it will alter the outcome.

Well, quantum physics may disagree with me there, but I've got no proof that worrying alters the outcome, so I'll have to assume that it doesn't. (Told you I'm a nerd.)

I mentioned to Jess and Lena, one of my trainees, that I'd found my old notes. I told them about the straining fault line. What interested me were their reactions and how different they were. Jess is practical to a fault, but she does have a tendency to let things she can't control take root in the back of her mind. I could see her brain clamp down on the idea and start working overtime.

Lena didn't look concerned. She just asked me if this was a test, and if I wanted her to try and figure a plan for rebuilding and whatnot in case an earthquake does happen. I almost laughed and told her no before realizing that it was a good idea. Also a pretty reasonable one.

The whole episode made me realize a few things. One is that I do a disservice to those I live with at times by writing this blog. I write in my own voice, and sometimes that makes it appear as though the people here are just one big homogeneous group that agrees with me and my point of view. It's hard to encompass all the different voices here in my writing. It's impossible to give each of them their well deserved due.

I also realized from Lena's reaction that for all my practice at running the day to day operations of the compound and skill in organizing projects, I'm pretty reactive. Lena isn't, at all: she thinks proactively all the time, and she's really good at it.

I guess what I'm saying is that I realize I'm not perfect. I've gone back and read a lot of my older posts and see that sometimes I'm arrogant and judgmental. I have respect for people as a base setting, yet some of you out there, my brother and sister survivors, have gotten the impression that I have something against some groups. Religion, the military, other groups of survivors...I get it. The truth is that I don't judge groups. Really. But I do get that I'm imperfect and thus subject to the failings of humankind.

I may not be as fair or open as I would like to be. I'm a smart guy, and the problem with smart people is that they always seem to think they're right. But there I was, not even considering a what my response would be to an earthquake that would probably level half of the compound, because it was too big to worry about. Lena, on the other hand, knew that a plan prepared ahead of time would cut down on our response time and probably save a lot of time, effort, and lives. I'm the guy in charge of thinking about shit like this. I should have been the first to say, hey, you're my trainee and have the time to work on this project--go do it!

Instead she suggested it, and I barely recognized how dumb I was being in not thinking of it first.

I've always tried to be as honest about myself as possible on this blog. It does no good for anyone for me to try and sugar coat who I am, who we as a community are. Honesty is a core requirement for trust, and trust is the only thing that allows us to manage.

So, I'll be honest. I don't know if I'm still the right guy for this job. Not the blog; that isn't a job. I mean running "ops", to use a bit of Star Trek terminology. Coordinating this place and planning for things is a responsibility that just gets bigger and more complex. I'm beginning to think that my arrogance in assuming I could do it all is more of a risk to us than it's worth.

That is something I will worry about. Not just because it's important, but also because it's something that, if true, I can change.

1 comment:

  1. It's the New Madrid Fault line and it's what helped formed the Appalachians. Let's hope it doesn't go off soon. Dunnae forget we live on top of a massive cave network. It wouldn't be fun. Also wouldn't mind getting my hand on those notes. Might be able to incorporate them into the classes. Sorry I've not been by. Been busy. I'll try and drop by soon.