Just a man

I went into the office yesterday and was surprised how few people were there. I traversed three floors and reckon I saw no more than 40-50 people. It’s a holiday today so that we can properly mourn the queen’s death, and with tomorrow being another public holiday, we have a four-day weekend. That may explain why there were so few people.

I sat by the window and set up at my hot desk. I went downstairs for coffee as I would before. At lunch, I caught up with a friend and had to queue to get into a busy Malaysian restaurant. In the afternoon, I attended a couple of meetings. By 4 pm, I was headed home.

I was in a benevolent mood. For weeks, months even, I’ve been exasperated and frustrated and sometimes even angry, but yesterday I let it go. Much of what I felt had been personified in my boss. We’d always got on well, but my absence from the job had exposed to view his feet of clay.

Meeting with him yesterday, I chose to see him as the man he is. I put aside my objections and frustration. I accepted him as a flawed individual, as most of us are. I let go of the disappointing realisation that he was not the man I thought he was. I had imposed that upon myself but judged him for it.

We’ll never again be the close colleagues we were before, but we don’t have to be. I don’t see a long future in my current role, and I had decided to roll with the punches rather than stand and fight back, which, as ever, was my instinct.

Objectively, I think I have legitimate cause for complaint – but complaining does me no good. And, up close to the man again, I saw the tiredness in him. He’s not quite up to all that is being asked of him, which is a lot. That’s the fault of his managers, who expect too much of him and take his effort for granted, and his fault for allowing it. It’s human nature also that he has felt vaguely threatened by the likes of me – a sharper intellect and much harder edge. He’s fought a rearguard action understanding, I think, where he fell short and looking to shore up his position. I can’t blame him for that. At the end of the day, he’s just a man.

I plan to reach out to him further. I want to share a drink with him and some of my disappointment without judgement. It must be tricky managing someone like me, smart and opinionated and full of energy. In that regard, I tend to be a purist, casting judgement on those less worthy.

I sometimes think of us as the tortoise and the hare, though I’m less inclined to rest on my laurels than the hare. He’s the loyal company man, and I’m the individualist seeking perfection. He’s humble; I’m aggressive. He plods along steadily achieving, whereas I’m given to imagination and inspiration. He’s incremental; I believe in the quantum. He’ll go around when I seek to push through. And so on. Once, it made us a good team.

I sometimes wish that I wasn’t so hard-edged and could blend in more readily. I don’t know how that happens, though, or how it can be. I can’t imagine being different and often find myself wondering at the passive nature of others. How is it that we’re different? And, what does it feel like to be like that? On balance, I’d rather be the way I am. We only have one life.

This is my nature, but having survived cancer, it has a different shading now. My inhibitions have loosened. I feel the urge to be the rock star, notwithstanding my physical limitations. Having come close to death, and with it lurking still in the background, there seems little value or point in holding back. I feel it infuse me with a kind of reckless passion that I’m incapable of expressing adequately. If I’m to do something, then I want to do it all the way – but what is it I choose to do?

I wish people understood. I wish I could explain it. It’s that inadequacy that has me accepting the situation with my boss now rather than fighting it. We’re imperfect beings, and I should remember that more often.

I feel as if I’ve painted a grim picture of myself. Perhaps that’s accurate, but I think there is much more to me. I may inhabit an alpha personality sometimes, particularly at work, but many people know me very differently. I believe they see me as kind and generous, thoughtful, gentle and compassionate. I hope that’s true of me.

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