occupy time and space

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Do you ever wonder why we sometimes get incredibly mad, frustrated, annoyed or upset? I mean really: why?

The other day at work I found a coworker doing his best to slack off. He made no apologies for it, then proceeded to leave early without doing everything that needed to be done. My personal belief is that he left early for fear of my wrath; however, bearing no empirical evidence that this is the case, this cannot be confirmed.

Regardless, I was angry. I yelled at him – in front of our manager. I was tired of putting up with this employee’s poor work ethic that I snapped. Do I regret my reaction? No. It’s in the past. Could I have handled it better? Most definitely.

But the problem isn’t that I snapped at him. That’s the symptom. The problem was the source of that anger. Why does it exist? Why do I care? A typical mindset would say something like, “What he was doing was wrong!” And, from that mindset’s perspective, they’d be right. Right?

we all have our stories

This concept deserves a moment in the spotlight: every individual has his or her story. That being, every individual has something going on in his or her personal life of which we, being the other individual, have no knowledge.

For instance, what if that coworker, the object of my mighty wrath, had recently lost a relative? Or a close friend? What if earlier that day he’d received some bad news that put him in a funk? It could be anything. We all have those moments where something in our personal life affects our performance in other aspects of living. Some more than others, but it’s inevitable that this happens to everyone.

It goes without saying that this coworker could simply be viewed as lazy. No questions asked. But is he lazy in other parts of his life? Whenever I hear him talk about cars, his base of knowledge he views as common sense blows me away. (Keep in mind, this is coming from a guy who just two years ago learned how to change a tire) If I broke down on the side of the road, this coworker is someone I wouldn’t mind stopping to help me out. Then I’d be grateful to him, right? I’d feel indebted and associate value with him.

But isn’t this all subjective anyway? Do I really care – I mean really care – if my coworker is having a crappy day? For most people, we only care if it affects our own day. Sure, we can show compassion, we can feel sorry for them and offer what sympathy we have it in our hearts to offer. But when we go home and say hello to our children, watch a TV show, or have sex, do we really care?

I, for one, don’t.

Am I wrong? No. Slightly insensitive? I don’t think so.

Because I have my own story to live. Do you care about my story? I mean really care? Probably not, or else you’d be thinking about me a whole lot more. (It’s cool, by the way, if you are)

an occupation of time and space

I would love to live my life with the mentality that I am simply occupying time and space.

Think about it. If that is our primary mentality – the occupation of time and space – how could we get mad? Does it change the fact that we are where we are, doing what we’re doing? When 50 all ask us for different things at the same time, why do we feel overwhelmed? You’re still going to be where you are, living each second, each minute, each hour. Why spend those transient moments in a stressful state of mind? You are where you are and it is what it is. We’d still be standing in that same spot, at that same time, working with the same people.

This may seem simplistic, but 1.) I think we make things too complex as it is, and 2.) it’s a good starting point.

So the next time we get angry with someone, perhaps we can remember that they have a story that made them who they are, influences and forces we could never understand.

And the next time we get stressed our feel out of touch, perhaps we can realize that no matter where we are or what we do, we’re doing two simple things: we’re occupying time, and we’re occupying space.

The next time we’re feeling stressed our overwhelmed, no matter the cause, perhaps we can try to think this:

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4 Responses to “occupy time and space”

  1. Rachel Csaszar Says:

    I really like this post Jeff! Reminds me of something I just read in my creative writing class if you want to take a look: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178211966454607.html

    I rarely think of what’s going on in other peoples lives when I’m in a hurry, or even when I’m not. Maybe eventually I’ll be able to!!

    • Jeff Hirz Says:

      Thanks Rachel! And thanks for posting that article. Wallace said exactly what I was trying to say, albeit much more thoroughly and eloquently. Thanks so much!

  2. Marthel Marty McMurray March Says:

    I take it one thought at a time, and follow the KISS principle.
    I find it incredibly sad that Mr. Wallace commited suicide. Very tragic.
    …..Marty

  3. it’s the principle « livin' like a freebird Says:

    […] livin' like a freebird cynical realism for the common man « occupy time and space […]

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