Thousand Steps

Dear J-

The thousand cranes you’re supposed to fold before your wish is granted; do you suppose that’s a metaphor or actual, real reality? Each of us has some kind of goal that seems unachievable but steady progress and persistence will knock it out faster than you think, I think. I have been making unsteady progress, afraid to be revising the reports I thought were finished last year; what was I working on, how did what I wrote change since then? The quip is that if you’re done learning, you’re done and there’s nothing but truth in that as far as you can throw it. If I’m not willing to admit I could be wrong (could I?) and change what I wrote, then there’s little hope for me yet.

Let’s go back to the thousand cranes; we learned how to fold them early on and the first bit of trivia they gave me was that if you folded a thousand, you’d get a wish (any wish? any wish?) and then they told me about the girl in the hospital; after the US bombed Hiroshima, one of the victims — a child, dying of radiation poisoning — started to fold a thousand cranes. So here I am working on a wish for fame and fortune and the next thing I know it all seems perfectly … lame. Because let’s face it, there’s nothing like dying folks to put your life in perspective; I do nothing quite so important, so why not change?

Maybe it’s the fear that I don’t know as much as I let on; one year on (plus a few months) things are changing at work, faster than you thought, new roles and responsibilities and here are old things you thought were buried and yet there’s still a lot of change that’s happening too. It’s confusing, and no one knows where the end is going to occur, but I do have priorities and that gives me some direction. That and the example of the thousand cranes inspires me: one bite at a time gets us there, sooner than you think. Render it down into its components: one report, one chart, one paragraph, one sentence. The danger is in losing count of the million pieces, some kind of Zeno’s paradox of completion when you’ve minced it so finely.

Mike

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