Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Greatest Strength, The Greatest Weakness -- Guest Blogger

While cruising around, there's one person I want for you to meet personally. My brother is awesome, hilarious really! He's such a BIG part of my life. Here he is:

Hello reader, my name is Shane. My sister Elisa asked me to guest blog while she’s on holiday.

You might ask, “How is it plausible for any person to have the breadth of experience Elisa writes about on her daily blog?”

Your skepticism is well justified, and were it not for the fact that I personally witnessed many of the stories, I would think the same thing.

“But.” you insist. “How is it possible?”

It is because her greatest strength is her greatest weakness. Life is about passion, about believing, about doing. Being passionate requires commitment, it requires faith, it requires the truly impassioned to accept who they are to the point of being flawed. Without doubt, Elisa does this, and I hope you do too. But, it does come at a price.

My own flaw comes by way of an irrational dedication to truth and honor. When asked a difficult question, I will answer honestly or not at all. An incident from a few years ago exemplifies this.

I cogitated over the missile. The ten foot long monster of destruction sat inside of a contraption designed to simulate actual flight, without the technological beast ever leaving the ground. Unfortunately, it just refused to cooperate. The control gains looked right. They matched simulation at least. But as soon as I cut the reigns loose and let it fly, the uncooperative machine bucked out of control faster than a one eyed Brahma bull at a two bit rodeo.

I sensed someone enter the room.

“Hey, Shane. Do you think we could have the system tomorrow for maintenance?” It was Can’t Take It, the test facilities engineer.

Can’t Take It got his name because he’s one of those guys who love to tease others, but can’t take it when they tease back. The bigger problem was, he’s in a senior position, and most of the time the jokes weren’t funny and came of mean. I’d learned to stay out of his way and focus on getting the job done.

“Sure.” I said. “You can have it tomorrow morning.”

“Great, thanks.” Can’t Take It walked out of the room.

I ended up beating my head against the cold metal of the problem for the rest of the night. In the morning though, there was a glimmer of hope, like the cool touch of rain in the heat of a Sonoran summer. I was hot on the tail of solving the dilemma when Can’t Take It came in.

“What are you doing here? You said I could have the system today.”

I didn’t like going back on what I said, but I knew I had priority. “I’m sorry, but I’m going to need the system for the rest of the day. Is that Okay?”

Even though he had seniority, he knew the program manager would agree, and the grimace on his face told of the irritation eating him. He paused a few seconds.

“Sure.” He said with a honeyed smile. “But you know what Shane? You’re a liar.”

The smile broadened at my obvious anger. Can’t Take It jauntily skipped from the room, reveling in my flaw. I could have bit my tongue in two, as I restrained the wicked retort roiling in my throat. Can’t Take It had found my weakness and there would be no stopping him.

So, back to Elisa. Elisa’s passion seems to be a terminal obsession with giving happiness to others. Oh, she’ll die old and satisfied, but when presented with the choice of smiling or living another day, she’ll grin and croak on the spot.

Since she was five years old, she’s been walking up to perfect strangers and asking them questions and telling them how Jesus loves them, regardless of culture, creed or hygiene. It was alarming then, and it’s no less so now. Her blazing smile ignites an inviting aura around her. It blares out like a megaphone. “I like you. I truly hope you’re having a nice day.”

The only problem is that there’s no off switch. Perhaps it’s for the best, I wouldn’t want to change her and it seems part and parcel to her personality. I know, you think I’m cold and calloused. You’re asking, “Why is this a bad thing?” And you’re right, but this passion has doomed her to being the patron saint of wackos and human leeches. Such associations make for good blog fodder, but scares the hell out of those who worry for her.

Some people, you don’t want to make them happy. Some people have a void instead of a soul and will suck you dry trying to fill the emptiness. For some people, the only way to be happy is to cause pain…

I solved the problem with the missile the same day. Can’t Take It conducted his maintenance the day after that, but he wasn’t about to let it go. Like a child with a new cell phone, he had to keep pushing the buttons.

“Hey, how’s the liar today?” He facetiously asked.

“Are you going to lie to me again?” He asked later.

“Hey guys, did you know Shane’s a liar.” He called the next day to his underlings. Half hearted compulsory chuckles filled the test area.

It went on for a couple days. The smile on Can’t Take It grew with each quip, and my tongue convulsed from holding it back.

To some degree we all possess some form of passion that simultaneously defines our personal strength and weakness. Sometimes it’s difficult to read yourself, especially with something hitting so close to home.

On the third day my tongue rose from the dead and lashed out in full fury.

“Hey Liar, got any new lies today?” The joker asked.

“I agree. I’m a liar.” I said. “And there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.” His roguish smiled continued taunting me. “I think you’re a handsome guy, one any girl would want.”

Can’t Take It’s hands wandered to his belly, which strained the buttons of his drab gray lab coat, but I wasn’t done.

“Yeah, I sure am a liar. You know what else? I really like you. I’ve always wished we could be better friends, you’re such a great guy.” Sarcasm impregnated the usual calm tone of my voice.
Can’t Take It stood in shock. His minions smiled in the background, emotional slaves thankful to have witnessed the humbling of their tyrannical master.

It was worth it in the moment, to lash out, but the next day when our mutual boss cornered me in my office, I thought differently. But those events comprise a different story.

Do you or someone you know have a strength they are so passionate about that it is also a weakness?