When I was stationed at the Navy’s Combat Camera Group Pacific in San Diego circa 1998, a civilian video editing instructor told me I acted like a guy who wore blue suede shoes. When I asked her what she meant, she replied, “You always have the answer. Ten steps ahead of everyone. All the time.” I took it as a compliment, but now I’m not so sure. I wonder if she wasn’t telling me to slow the fuck down? If so, that was stellar advice I totally missed and definitely could have used.
Twenty years and perhaps a dozen jobs later, I discovered my mouth consistently wrote checks my ass couldn’t ever cash. Matters of “honor” that didn’t matter. A major pain over minor distinctions without a measurable difference. Over and over again I’d put myself in the spotlight and on the firing line, without knowing why or that I was even doing it in the first place. Total ego blindness.
It would be bad enough if it was just my life getting derailed in the process, but for the last 14-years, my son’s mom was also impacted by those unconscious, unforced errors. She’d plead with me to look in the mirror for the source of my distress only to encounter fierce resistance from my well-honed defense mechanisms. Sly devils who’d been in charge long before she graced my life with her intuitive, patient and loving counsel.
I woke-up to a disintegrating reality back in February as part of an effort to shore up my relationship with my son and become a better dad. I was startled to find that the egoistic reactions that caused me to lack patience with him were part the same dysfunctional instincts that led me to the ranks of the unemployed every couple years. Sometimes way quicker than that. Most of those “layoffs” were completely avoidable. A sad realization at nearly 50 years old. So much wasted time. So many missed opportunities.
When I landed my current gig in the midst of another unfolding and largely self-created crisis, I was determined not to make the same mistakes. I’m getting too old for that shit. It was amazingly easy once I stopped voicing every opinion that popped into my hyperactive noggin. Talk less. Smile more. Listen, process and then respond. Sometimes that means not responding at all or following-up later once I’ve had a chance to order my thoughts. Show some respect for myself and my co-workers. Don’t be a dick. Roger that.
No more blue suede shoes for this kid. Not wanted. Not needed. Never were.