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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Break Time

I am thinking of taking 3-4 months off from work. My present contract runs through the end of September but maybe I can get out early. I won't walk out but if the company doesn't seem to need me, I will gladly slowly evaporate. I have been working solidly for the past 28 years. OK, I have been consulting part time for the past 6 years but I am overdue. The goal is not to stop working just to take a break and see how it feels.

I always thought it would be easy to walk away. I certainly did in 1974, 1976 and 1979 but my conditioning has changed. I keep saying "this is it" but it never really is. I was thinking about how we cage ourselves. In Lord of the Rings, Aragorn speaks to Eowyn a maiden of Rohan about such things.

"What do you fear, lady?" he asked.

"A cage," she said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire."

The Return of the King: "The Passing of the Grey Company,"

The words of Eowyn, daughter of the King of Rohan.

Zoo Animals and Beasts of Prey, A Parable

There are two types of workers in Silicon Valley.

The first types are zoo animals. That accounts for most of us. We like to feel safe and we like to stay put and be fed every day by our keeper. The really good animals try to stay in a zoo as long as possible. Eventually they lose whatever hunting instinct they ever had. If the zoo lets them out they wouldn’t have a basic idea of where to get their next meal. It is important for Zoo animals to fit in and not make too many waves. It’s particularly not a good idea to bite the keeper even though it happens now and then.

If a zoo animal consistently misbehaves they might be put out to fend for themselves or they might be sent to the circus where they have to perform special tricks for a time and then they might be let back in the zoo.
Good little zoo animals really get off on being part of the zoo community and doing zoo type events. In time they come to expect them.

The second type is a beast of prey. A prey animal does not like the zoo and in fact prefers to be out on the plains fending for themselves. They will take a chance and go for a long time in between meals to stay independent even though, now and then, they will come into a habitat just for the food then they will quickly disappear again. They can’t perform and do tricks like zoo or circus animals. They can only be themselves.

Sometimes you’ll see animals that will call themselves beasts of prey but they will come and squat in a zoo for a long time while telling the zoo animals the glory of being independent. But in fact they are not prey animals at all. These are really zoo habitat animals that can survive knowing that while they don’t officially belong to the zoo, they are allowed to stay as long as they perform tricks now and then. When they are asked to leave the zoo they become quite indignant. That’s when everyone knows them for what they really are.

One of my very favorite zoos is a place called Zoogle. It is a very big zoo and the animals are expected to act quite tame. It helps if they went through some sort of well-regarded animal obedience schooling and scored highly when tested for what type of tricks they could do. If you take a tour of Zoogle different talking animals will come out of their cages and give you pre-scripted speeches about what they do. By the way, old animals need not apply.

Beasts of prey best stay away from places like Zoogle. There are many other interesting hunting grounds and sources of fresh meat. Even though Zoogle has a half dozen or so feeding troughs, beasts of prey would rather go hungry for a day or two. The food is advertised as free but the price is living in a cage. That is way too high a price to pay for a beast. Beasts may not get regular meals or live as long as Zoo animals but they get to live life as nature intended, living freely on the open plains, hunting their next meal. Their instincts are intact.

But then it is all a matter of what type of animal you want to be.

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