Men and Women

It’s busy, there is a lot happening. But it is kinda dark, and there are criminal elements scurrying in the shadows.

I’m talking about the world of a mystery novel. A least a lot of them. And there is the heroic detective, who is flawed and isn’t perfectly groomed, but he’s going to figure out the mystery and catch that bad guy.

Because we need to get back to regular. Regular is not perfect, but people have to be able to live their lives. Even criminals have to make a living, but keep it under control.

I picked up Rules of Prey by John Sandford this week and lived in this world for a few days. It had been a while since I’d visited.

I was a bit horrified to be in the mind of a torturous woman-hating serial killer, but there were some other female characters I admired. Women were more than prey.

And that brave and clever detective had to work very hard to catch the killer and make things right. Well, as right as they could be. Get things back to normal. Normal was flawed, but we could work with it.

And it struck me: this world could be a metaphor for how a lot of men are. Not every man, but many would find that paradigm as ideal.

Fix the big problem. No one is going to be happy all the time, but the big issues have to be dealt with and eliminated. It is a very conservative ideal. Just keep things the same. It’s fine. Keep things at fine.

This is not exclusively male. Women read mysteries too.

The book genre that almost no men read? ROMANCE. Romance novels are for the ladies. Ladies really love them. I’ve read my share, even though it’s not my first pick.

Romance novels are trying to shake things up. The story begins with a woman who wants more, even if she doesn’t know it. There is a status quo, but it MUST be upset every time by a relationship. The heroine will fall in love. There will be a great disturbance in the usual flow of things: a passion with a new person.

The story aspires for something.  In the world of the romance novel things are always in need of an upgrade: a new love.

I have decided this is an essential difference between men and women. Women are always trying up upgrade things in little ways. You know what this old desk needs? A scented candle! Always something.

Not a complete revolution, not necessarily. But while men are walking the beat, like a detective in the books, checking to make sure things don’t go too far out of line, women are looking around for how to make things just a little better.

It seems to fit.

Creeping Along

It has happened to me. I need to go get flea medicine for the dog, but then on the way my husband asks me to pick up razor blades. Then my daughter asks for a Starbucks. 

I was trying to go to the store for one thing, and then my errand got bigger than I intended. 

This kind of thing is so common it has a formal name: 

Scope creep 

When I lead meetings at work, I am very quick to point out when our plan starts to creep beyond the original intention. 

“Scope Creep! That will have to wait and be part of another project.” 

I feel like I have won when I get to call out scope creep. A line in the sand, a boundary and an answer. I know what to do with this. 

Projects are what I do and I love to organize and process them. 

The best way to recognize when scope creep is happening is to be very clear on the purpose of my effort.  And to know how much money and time I was willing to spend. 
If I only had a half hour, I would tell my husband and daughter no because I didn’t have the time. If I was trying to save money, I might tell my daughter no to Starbucks. I have a small tight little task and I know what I need. 

Life is full of currents and I can get caught up in the momentum of what I’ve always done. Maybe I was running my flea errand on the way home from work. 

And maybe in all that hurry I forget to check the big question.  

It’s easy to forget to wonder whether I ought to have that job at all. Projects keep my focus on a few details I’ve decided are important. 

But if I look again, maybe I would decide something different. I could un-focus my perspective and see things a different way. 

I could widen my view. Instead of trying to be the fastest one on the freeway, I could expand my view and ask if I even want to be on the road. 

I can’t help but think that this COVID shut down shifted the momentum of all the people in the world.  People are moving. People have lost jobs and found new ones.  

There are other roads to travel on. Picking my road can make a difference. 

The fruit and the tree

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

My mandarin orange tree had an amazing harvest this year. This is the first year the tree gave me fruit. nFruit could be considered the tree’s purpose. 

But for the fruit, the tree is its support system. The oranges are each their own individual selves. 

They couldn’t exist without the tree. 

I recently heard a psychiatrist talking about people’s identities. He said that young children may explore identities, but as they get just a bit older the rest of their peers and family push back against their imagination and help them fit into the world. Adjusting their identities and sense of self in the world. 

My mandarin oranges were not very respectful of the tree. What happened is that the oranges were so very lush and heavy that the branches literally broke. I saw this happening, and braced branch before it tore completely off. The fruit  was able to finish ripening, but then I had to cut the whole branch off. 

People’s families are called trees. You can research your family tree. 

As humans we have agency to change our behavior and not damage our society. And as an individual fruit I can pursue my own growth but adapt it if it’s damaging the source I’m springing from. 

Circumstances and resources shape a tree and a person. We grow and stretch. We are also restricted by resistance and inhospitable conditions. 

My human agency allows me to make choices and aim toward the greater fulfilment of my indentity.  

And my experience with my poor mandarin reminds me to pay attention to needs of my society. 

I am part of a system. I did not spring from nothing.