On my desk is a book, “Now Panic and Freak Out,” full of quotations about the lighter side of life. No, I am not revisiting humor as a powerful tool again; instead, I am addressing some common themes in an uncommon manner. While I agree that staying calm and carrying on is a tool that needs revisiting, I agree with Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic” is just not working, and too many people forgot their towels! So, get comfortable; we are going to discuss why it’s okay to panic now and freak out!
“Just because nobody complains does not mean all parachutes are perfect.” – Benny Hill
A work acquaintance complains that too many managers are not squeaky wheels, so problems can be discovered and proactively worked. For example, an automated report has not been generating for 18-months, and nobody said a word, even though the report generates the productivity of associates working and plays a role in a host of other decisions. As a society, it appears that even if the parachute fails, nobody is willing to ask questions, and that is a problem. Why did we as a society stop asking questions, digging for answers, and being curious?
“I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don’t always agree with them.” – President George H. W. Bush
Was this one of those infamous slips of speech, a symbol of politician spinelessness, or is this a reality? I have strong opinions, and I find it natural not to always agree with those opinions. I do this as a reality check for my opinions and have found that playing “Devil’s Advocate” on my beliefs teaches me to learn, investigate, stay curious, and keep learning. However, when I discuss this in public, people act like I stole their breakfast, kicked their dogs, and slapped them across the face. Thus, I ask again, only for emphasis, when did we as a society stop chasing curiosity, valuing questions, and searching for answers?
“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.” – Jean-Paul Sartre
I heard a teenager express “I know” so often, I wanted to smack them. Except, I was that teenager, and self-abuse was not going to help me. I have read books all my life, and according to my wife, I have an incredible memory, plus I get the stories, just maybe not all the names and numbers. Hence, I can tell you stories on a host of topics; on some topics, I can still quote the numbers and hazards, and on some topics, I just love having the basics nailed to see where the foundational stones can be laid to generate solutions. But I have no clue how to live! I still have some of my report cards from K-12, the most common comment, “Does not play well with others.” Followed by “Would rather read than socialize.” Then closely followed by, “Does not like being interrupted when reading!” I think Jean-Paul Sartre has something here worth discussing. Why do we punish failure when failure is part of living?
“There was yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside the dullest exterior, there is a drama, a tragedy, and a comedy.” – Mark Twain
Jean-Paul Sartre and Mark Twain make excellent points here from both sides of the coin of life. Better, figuring out how to live involves drama, tragedy, and comedy as tools for building knowledge. Thus, the next time you hear someone claim, “I am dull, my life is boring,” you can assure them, Mark Twain and Jean-Paul Sartre would disagree with them vehemently.
“Caution: Cape does not enable the user to fly.” – Tag on a Batman cape.
But wouldn’t it be cool if it did? How many have seen a Superman cape, a Batman cape, or Spiderman costume and thought, “I wish this would help me fly, climb walls, swing through the city on a web, or leap tall buildings, etc.” Imagination and curiosity are crucial to learning, living, and being human. Why would anyone not imagine? I cannot fathom that reality, but the truth stares at me daily, where imagination is considered just for kids. Have the adults in the room stopped learning; if so, why? I cannot imagine a life without imagination as the tool to grab in problem-solving, understanding operations, or visualizing processes; yet, mention a daydream, or ask someone to imagine, and people recoil like you have leprosy. If there was a reason to freak out and panic, a lack of imagination and refusals to learning are symptoms of the problem.
“Facts are stupid things.” – President Ronald Reagan
Boy is this the absolute truth! I see a lot of data every day! Data are accepted as facts, and even when proven to be erroneous, people will still cling to the data as facts. During my undergraduate statistics program, the instructor designed an awesome class. We took a sample of data in Week 1, and by Week 8, we have proven our hypothesis, disproved our hypothesis, twisted the hypothesis, and written a host of reports to support our data as right and wrong with confidence. Know what we learned, not to trust statistics and data as facts. Unfortunately, not everyone has learned this lesson, want another lesson, people will always trump data! I have witnessed people do extraordinary things under pressure that the data claims are 100% impossible. Where people are involved, nothing is impossible, just improbable!
“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” – George Bernard Shaw
Just to be fair, let’s include women in this category of learning from experience. I know for a fact that men are not the only ones who struggle with learning from experience. Plus, I think that was the point in emphasizing “Man” in the quote above; but I have learned that someone will choose to take offense that women are omitted. Do you think this is a symptom of the disease or the disease itself? Would you be surprised if I said this is only a symptom of the disease?
The disease is envy, labeled as equality and fairness, and aspersions are cast to justify choosing to be offended. I was discussing this topic Sunday with several people, and the disease of envy is just too simple to understand, and the disease of envy is repeating the history of Rome. Rome repeated Greece, Greece repeated the Byzantine Empire, who repeated Egypt, and the list goes on and on all the way back to Cain and Able. Not a single society in history is exempt from the disease of envy, being displayed as equality and fairness.
“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard
Panicking and freaking out are not opposite sides of the emotion coin; they are extensions of staying calm and carrying on. I promise you cannot prove you are staying calm if you have not felt a reason to freak out. You cannot prove you are successfully carrying on if you have not experienced fear and panic. This might at first appear to be a paradox, but telling someone to stay calm who has never experienced panic, they will not know what you are talking about or what to do.
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.