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Transactional Immunity

September 12, 2021

Encouraging bad behavior is at the root of the human condition.

Teaching design three half days a week, (and prepping for almost as much time) I must work 7 days a week, or everything suffers. Fortunately, my children are grown and away at great distance from us, and my wife has a full time career and has a social life independent of our relationship. So I can abuse both.

Today, Sunday, I also abused my relationship with My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as well. I had to skip church as a miraculous ensemble of flights to and from Virginia in 18 hours, with about 6 hours on the ground to look at one, and perhaps two, building sites for wonderful clients. So what if I had to wake up at 4AM after a jovial dinner with friends, this was a miraculous slip into a jammed schedule.

A full waiting area in the 6:15 AM airport saw 2 pilots saunter in, then 3 flight attendants, and…we were told we needed 4 attendants to fly. No fear, the attendant had left his hotel room, “and would be here”.

An hour later, I began calculating the time I had in the window to get to my connecting flight. I could get to my connection even if the attendant was two hours late. Another hour, and the announcement “If you are connecting, we are all good, no worries.”

Then another hour went by, and we were an hour and half late in taking off, but I had an hour window to burn.

“Good news, we have a replacement attendant flying in from Chicago.” Why?

“We have no idea where our original attendant is.”

When does the replacement arrive?

In time for a 3.5 hour take-off delay. I could handle 3.

So…upon leaving the head attendant simply said, “They went to his room, and it was empty. We have no idea what is going on.”

So I go home, expending 7 hours in futile worship of my control.

Well, I did not go home, I went to the office. Finished my slide show for the University of Hartford’s Second Year Architectural Design Class. Then I dove into a tiny job for a delightful couple in Maine (creating a Mud Room) my services purchased in a fund-raising auction. Then I hit the essay I started in June that had July comments that is due in 2 weeks for a terrific California venue.

So I had to dump one bucket, but I filled others. Including now, working out to make the 45th consecutive day of death avoidant exercise. Instead of learning from my insane overkill, I overcame my failure by overkilling more.

If you work them off transgressions (like a great desert) can be functionally mitigated. But when you validate your worth by execution of the tasks you yourself create for you, you simply justify your hubris. Not good.

In the dance between motivations and outcomes, outcomes have all the airtime. I can report that boxes have been checked off, I did what needs doing. But why? Why do I need to be on the exercise bike for the next 52 minutes?

Because I am a human.

The inadequacy of my motivations is simply true. I can pound a virtue signally chest and scream “THIS!” Like so many I see on social media, but is harder to find solace in the devotions that are my motivation to be of use to those who trust me, share the gifts God has given me, and simply eat less tonight than I now can, killing 500 calories.

No.

66 years of getting grades, making tackles, fitting the tight pants, going to the children’s games and practices, building 1,000 things, are simply my functional foundation. For now. I know, that just like the missing Flight Attendant, my ensemble of physical and intellectual viabilities will be missing some day. I will be unable to do 18 hour days, or work out 45 days in a row avoiding death on my exercise bike.

I know that God is shaking his head, perhaps smiling at my asininity, just like my father would have shaken his head and frowned had I gotten a “C” on just about anything. Disappointment is part of every day, despite the outcomes, maybe because of them.

Reconciling the sacred and profane is as hard as rationalizing the relationship between motivations and outcomes. You know what is right, it’s just that there are at least a couple of rights to devote to. After 60 years beyond infancy, the choices are harder.

Relentless schooling demanded time. A not yet career demanded time. A young marriage of discovery demanded time. Children demanded time. This article demands Time.

But time is, in the end, shown in outcomes to everyone but ourselves. It is we who finally know our motivations, about the reality that is not justifiable without Acts.

I wish I knew another way.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Don permalink
    September 14, 2021 11:21 pm

    Re “Encouraging bad behavior is at the root of the human condition.”

    Yes. But it’s most often performed in the guise of indifference and deliberate ignorance — “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room –The Holocaustal Covid-19 Coronavirus Madness: A Sociological Perspective & Historical Assessment Of The Covid “Phenomenon”” by Rolf Hefti at https://www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html

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