Change is inevitable. It is constant. We grow from change and we sometimes decline. We can never truly know what good will come from it but it is a basic precept of life and some deal with it better than others.
For myself, I am ever changing and desperately seeking to adapt. In many areas of my life I do so quite well. And like many, there are those changes that I do not deal with gracefully. But change happens and we must accept it. Acceptance is not my bailiwick. Recognition and understanding, sure, I have no difficulties in that regard. But acceptance will get me. The emotional animal is a little too powerful in me.
I am lucky in that I possess a highly logical perception of the world and of the events that transpire around me, but the raw emotion of the human animal inside often hulks out and crushes that logical forebrain. If you know me, then you know I quite often wear my emotions on my sleeve. It is something I wish I could change, and while I can overcome it at times and am improving in not allowing my emotions to overcome my sense of reason, it is a constant battle. One which I often lose.
I think about this, this idea of acceptance and then coping. For myself, I can cope quite fine. It is the acceptance that I foolishly fight. And it is ironic because I am so very aware of this failure in others. It is glaringly obvious and laughable. And to be fair, it strikes me in others over the smaller things in life. Everyone is different, yet we are all so much the same. And one of the things I’ve noticed over the many years I’ve had with interacting with people through a transaction of some sort is that the word “no” when used in answer to an expectation will not get through immediately.
When someone has their mind set on something, and I mean really set in such a way that to them their expectation is as soon a truth as the sun rising the next day, they cannot accept reality when that expectation is not met.
I’ve seen this so many times it’s become something of an entertainment to me. I actually enjoy the process of reality sinking in, most of the time. At Starbucks and Nordstrom, we would unfortunately run out of things. It sucks, but it happens. And for most, it results in disappointing acceptance. But for some, it fails to hit home immediately. Their expectation is so strong, so certain, that when I’ve told them “no”, they rail against reality. The animal inside will refuse to accept the reality of the situation and become agitated, angry, annoyed and sometimes even downright belligerent. What do you mean you’re out? That’s simply not possible. I want it and I want it now. I’ve been anticipating it, I’ve been expecting it. You’re wrong, it must be here and you must give it to me or my whole day will be ruined.
And when you’re dealing with the human animal, all you can do is repeat the state of reality again and again until it is accepted. You must stay calm and it helps to be sympathetic to a degree, but you’re only course of action is to keep stating the truth: We are out.
This happens with my job now. We have regulations set forth by the city of San Diego and enforced by the lifeguards. These regulations have many logical reasons for safety and when you think about them for even a little bit, they make perfect sense. But the human animal does not care about logic, reason or sense. It wants, and that is all. And in this circumstance it wants to go kayaking.
Many people from all over the nation and all over the world come out and play with us in the water. They set aside time to do so, they even plan things around our activity. So they come to us with a hard set expectation. And some of them don’t plan far enough ahead; they do not realize just how popular kayaking in La Jolla is and they think they’ll be able to go whenever they want. But if they don’t book far enough in advance, it is unlikely they will be able to go.
Each tour can only be booked to a max number of 20 people, again this is for safety and is strictly enforced by the lifeguards. So when someone calls today and wants to take their family of five out at 2 p.m., which is the only time they have available because they’re from Wisconsin and are leaving the next day, I’ll look at the calendar and tell them that unfortunately the 2 p.m. tour is booked. This clashes hard against their rock hard expectation and they do not accept it. What do you mean it’s booked? I tell them again, I’m sorry but it is booked. There is no room on that tour and I’ll ask them if there is another time they can go. Acceptance is still far from reach at this point and they’ll tell me that 2 p.m. is the only time they can go. I’ll tell them again that I’m sorry but that tour is booked and I cannot put them on it.
“But we’re leaving tomorrow.”
“But can’t you just squeeze us in?”
“Unfortunately I cannot.”
“Because it is booked and we are not allowed to take out more than 20 people per tour.”
“But there’s just five of us.”
“I know and there is already 20 people booked on that tour.”
“You sure you can’t fit us in?”
And this is the long road to acceptance. I’ve told them already the reality of the situation, I’ll then tell the why of it and still it will not matter. Their expectation is huge and strong and does not want to bend or give. The human animal wants what it wants and it is hard to deter.
From here, it’s just a waiting game. I will stay calm and I will be sympathetic, but I will stand my ground, because it is the only ground to stand upon; it is reality. Most will eventually accept it and figure something else out. But there are a few among us that have let the human animal control their life to such a degree that when they are faced with the word “no”, they fight it tooth and nail to the bitter end. Unfortunately they see me as the culprit, as if I personally am not letting them have what they want. They will attack, sometimes viciously. I am not the culprit, I’m just the messenger.
And I’ve shot down my fair share of messengers. Not on the small things that are the result of rules or outages, but on the larger issues of life that don’t have a black and white set of regulations. I’ll silently rail against the truth of the matter and emotionally react in a way that is entirely irrational. The truth will sink in quickly, and I’ll know my only course of action is acceptance but the human animal in me will continue to rage against it.
I guess the first step is recognizing this truth and trying to change in accordance with reality. Curbing emotional reactions and guiding the animal within to the bitter waters of acceptance until it’s not so hard to swallow? Easier said than done. And who knows, maybe the little blue guardians on the planet Oa will bestow upon me a genuine Green Lantern ring. Then I’ll just shape reality to my liking.