Monday, 24 August 2009

Learning from the humble seed

Not such a good day today. A difficult conversation this morning - definitely not a dialogue, in so many ways. And a reminder of how easy it is for me to drown when the conditions aren't right. The less said about it the better.

As my dear and departed friend Rod might have said to me, the only disaster is when you don't learn. So I'll try to learn from it. (Maybe that's why I'm writing it down here.)

So on an apparently less serious note...

I cracked a tooth on a strawberry seed today. Yes, a fucking strawberry seed. What a joke. Tough, home grown, 45 year old enamel, shattered by a devastatingly well-placed factory farm produced strawberry seed. How on earth did something so small and harmless cause such pain? Such destruction? Such inconvenience to my emergency dentist, my children and my wallet? I've paid more than enough to the medical profession this month.

There MUST be something to learn from this...

(I remember one of my best ideas ever came when I was asked to help some people think about how to spread creativity through a school. They were a bit thin on passion and I was a bit cross (with something) so I was less considered and considerate than usual. "Think of creativity as a disease" I said. "A nasty, determined, ugly disease. What would cancer do?" It was one of those accidentally brilliant insights that comes from a darker, less rational place and sometimes I try to make sure I use my own insight (when I remember).

So - let's look at the unconscious strategy of that despicable strawberry seed. Maybe he (she) can teach me something.

First, occupy an environment that appears to be (and is in fact) sweet and harmless. Benign. Attractive even. Pleasing to the eye and sweet to the very tooth that will become your victim.

Second, bury yourself deep inside an environment where there are many others like you. Be invisible among fellows.

Thirdly, let your enemy do all the work for you. This is no heat-seeking missile. No cunning, map-reading devil. This is something far more dangerous. Far harder to protect yourself against . Let your enemy, let him (the poor distracted fool) swill you and chew you around into just the right position... that so specific point, the only place where it could really hurt...

And then, and this is GENIUS, use the very strength of your victim's armour as a lever against itself. The arrogant power of the jaw, the casual, habitual chomp. Let these things be your power. All you have to worry about is being the thing you are. Own the properties you possess. This is no accident. You were meant to be a strawberry seed. This is your moment. Hold fast. Be strong. Strong like strawberry seed.

And crunch.

Done. In a moment.

And then... then the only moment where you might risk criticism: you make yourself visible. Your work done, you name yourself, distinct and unmistakable. On the tongue. Spat out. Job done. Who cares if you're dispatched. Your impact has been felt. The damage has been done.

And the cost of all this? The price to pay? Humility - that's all. And a cause.

The knowledge that it may not be YOU that gets to be THE strawberry seed. It may be one of your colleagues. Your fellows. BUt without you there, without your random presence, the great event may not take place.

So - lessons learnt. I must situate the niggly skills of dialogue in a sweet environment, surround them with other equally powerful fellows, use the power of the force I wish to work against. And humbly accept that it might not be me that does it.



Relatively speaking.

My dentist was a warm, communicating human being. And the damage was repaired.

So much for strawberry seeds.

Pip pip.

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