Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

How Chaos Rocks

I’ve done fairly well staying off politics here, even if it means passing up some really spectacular raw material lately. Through maybe four years of this stuff I have also stayed off work fairly well.

Today work appears in my blog, and I hope to keep work to collateral status.

The theistic are prone to say that everything happens for a reason. I do not buy that. What I can accept is that a succession of random, inchoate actions can have an unexpected and beneficial outcome.

This seems to have happened to me, just now. When I was swept out of IT in the backwash of the dot-com bust, I ended a fruitless job search by going back to school for a medical coding certificate. This puzzled my friends nearly as much as my learning Welsh. Coding may be as abstruse as my mother tongue, but it is a damn sight more germane. When I finished the programme, and before I could find a coding job, I took a job writing medical documentation. I took it because I needed to do something at least vaguely related to my new education, and I needed money.

Jobs one takes just for the money are seldom successes, and this was no exception.

In the course of wondering what I could do at my age to get out of this self-inflicted fix, I ran across some wise words from a career counselor. You can’t change the boss, so if you can’t change the conditions, change your job.

Years ago, I had begun watching a small publishing firm in my home town, which specialised in medical topics. I had never had all of the singular mix of skills they required, but despite numerous rejection letters, I kept an eye on them. Wondering if this time I might have the skills, I watched their Web site closely for more than a year. This winter, I thought I saw my opening.

I was right. I am beginning a job that requires a rare mix of skills which I now have, thanks to an apparently random series of actions over the past ten years. Two weeks and two days passed from emailing the resume to accepting the offer. It is chaos theory applied to the workplace. No one item was the prime actor: the success lies in the interaction of separate, apparently nonlinear elements in the mix. True chaos theory suggests that the disconnection of initial conditions is more apparent than real: that their outcome is deterministic.

In this case, at least, hindsight suggests this is true.

Still, I draw back from the metaphysical abyss. We shall see in two years or so whether I can overcome the ennui that has usually had its way with my motivation after that time. If I have, then this square peg may indeed have found its proper hole.


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