Monday, September 12, 2011

Thought Intrusion, or a Safe Title To A Rambling Post

Almost two years ago, I wrote this piece on the suddenness of death and endless possibilities of life.

Still way further back, another piece I wrote six years back talks about how some things and people take on added importance in our lives, and the degree by which they enrich our lives is somewhat miraculous.

I realize I have been going on for such a long time. I don't know who it is out there that is reading this blog ... if what I am writing is doing something for you, I am glad and you are most welcome even if I don't receive your thanks.

But I am still pleased to tell my stories, if only to indulge my penchant for telling them.

Last Tuesday, I attended my first Toastmaster meeting in over a year. I was a charter member of our company club and was an integral part of the organization during its initial years, but my interest has waned as work and other projects took precedence. Also, something about the way our club was going on irked me. This may have more to do with me and my state of being than what was going on in general.

I'd rather keep the name of this new club to myself for the meantime. This is a club older than the one I used to attend, and is a more distinguished club because of its diversity and (most likely) more talented pool of speakers. Still, the air of informality in the club was both refreshing to me and at the same time, was an awful turn-off. This isn't a show-and-tell or a recital in school. Such things allow some pettiness. This is supposed to be a professional organization.

About the only thing going for the club was the fresh dose of youth among the officers, though I would surmise I only met the appealing half. (How mean! How tawdry!) The theme of the evening was about angels, which rang warning bells because normally TMI does not allow discussions regarding sex, politics, and religion. (That's why it's a stretch to get something meaningful, at times, during TM meetings).

Earlier that day we suffered a fatality in the factory. I knew this man personally, I had broken bread with him in the full sense that I spent a good time conversing with him. The man's chest was crushed in the concrete mixer. He was caught in-between the concrete chute and the pneumatic hopper chamber while cleaning hardened concrete chips from the machine with a portable jackhammer.

The machine was most likely improperly maintained as there not enough trained staff to conduct preventive maintenance. It is this kind of combination that often makes the worst kind of tragedies - complacency mixed in with trust/surrender. Such a cycle feeds upon itself until, in this case, something like this wakes us up.

I also knew the man's family personally - the man's brother-in-law is one of the pillars of the company. He too, struggled under the system. As an aside, dispassionately and without any trace of blame, this brother-in-law of course was also caught up in this cycle - I would like to believe he fought against most of its ills. But that is another story for another day. After twenty-plus years in the Company, he decided it was time to pack up and leave.

One delay after another prevented him from leaving. The day the whole family was about to leave, this tragedy struck.

I am thankful that the Lord has chosen to reward me with another day. Everything fades beside this reality: Life is precious and valuable because our hold over it is tenuous and uncertain. Now for those who don't believe in a higher power, I respect whatever order or symmetry they believe that gives sense in all this chaos and uncertainty. For me, it's simple - it's God.

Which now leads us back to the Toastmaster meeting - and I volunteered to speak first at Table Topics, which is essentially an impromptu speaking exercise. And I spoke at length about the event of the day, and the memories of my older thoughts were all combined.

It would have been much more impressive, had my fly not been open during the majority of the speech.

So yeah, blah, blah, this wouldn't have been all that great if I didn't win that day. But I did, and by all indications, I managed to make an impression. In more than leaving my fly open, that is.

To be honest, I was disappointed with the conduct of the meeting and the culture of the club - its standards and internal discipline need a review, in my opinion - to prevent complacency and neglect. If ever I am going to grow by continuing to attend this club's meetings, it will only be because of the people who go there. I am torn on this because I hardly know anybody there, and besides which, just attending is already an investment since I live and work in the outskirts of the city. As I have just arrived in Riyadh, I haven't marshaled all of my resources to ensure my mobility. Needs must I depend on other people to get from point A to point B. That surely cramps my style.

There were of course points of inspiration during the meeting that got me enthused about the entire enterprise.

Shall I wait on it, and let the ebb and flow of life decide for me, or charge on ahead, knowing that tomorrow may not wait?

New thought balloon: now things start getting more interesting.  Welcome to Riyadh, buddy!

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