Team Dreams

“I want what everyone wants,” I said to the pastor trying to counsel me.

He looked askance at my trans presentation and asked just what I thought it was that everyone wanted.

“I want to be seen, understood and valued for my unique contributions to the group.”

After thinking about it for a while, he admitted that might actually be something that everyone wants.

When I watch the Bon Appétit Channel — — and read the comments, I see what people like: watching a team of smart, focused, diverse people at work.   They are food nerds who have formed a family where everyone is seen, understood and valued for their unique contributions.

Very few of us plan to make gourmet Peeps from scratch, but all of us like seeing bright people band together to fight challenges in passionate and caring way.   That intensity is compelling because it is something we want in our life, a reflection of our dream to be part of a great, focused team.

When I remember the best part of my life, it was the days when I was part of a startup software company, a big team working for creation.   Like all startups, I was connected to different groups in different ways, but my primary affiliation was to product management, the node of Marcia, Janet and myself who together knitted the tasks and initiatives together.

After that, I worked hard to create other teams, based on the same kind of close interactions, the fighting fail and fighting fun that fuelled integration towards achieving shared goals, knowing that people who won’t fight with you won’t fight for you.   I knew what I needed. After all, I used to cry at Tom Peters books even before joining software, and my team building days date back to high school..

Finding people who know how to share focus, let alone people who have the skills to let go of their own myopia to do what is needed, well, that I have found is very rare indeed.   And the older we get, it seems, the less we want to engage new tricks of coming together.

This is true in the big population, of course, but it is even more true in the area of trans.   It is very hard to herd cats, as they have said.   That’s one reason I instantly clicked with TBB, because Sabrina was always out to build a team at SCC, empowering every individual to contribute, knowing that personal responsibility is the basis of shared success.   It’s not what they are going to do, or even what we are going to do, it is the combination of personal actions that moves us forward.

Maybe Sabrina learned this because of her work in the space program, or maybe she joined the space program because she wanted to join a smart team, but either way, it was a deep connection between us.   We trusted each other on stage the first night we met because we both recognized good, flexible, integrated team members.  We had each other’s back.

It is truly a joy to know and be known by others with whom we work for shared goals.   By trusting other people, we form the beautiful and delicate tension of conflict for good, always being surprised by other viewpoints, always being rewarded with constructive change.

I long for the shorthand and the safety of being part of a smart team, but the BA comments tell me that I am far from the only one with these longings.

What do I think women want?   The Sex And The City gals have the answer.  We want good partners:  smart, attentive, trustworthy, playful partners who see, understand and value us for our unique contributions.     Compromise is required, as well as engagement, the ability & willingness to do things you don’t want to do, as long as you know they are the right thing to do, trusting even when you don’t quite understand why they are important.  We’ll do that for you and for our kids; why won’t you do it for us?

Being part of a great team means that you will always be challenged.   Mastering new skills, expanding your vision and fielding feedback will push your comfort zone, but one of the best parts of being part of a team is that you will always have people around to support and encourage you.     Change is the only constant in life, but as part of a team it’s easier to feel confident, aware and motivated about moving into a better, more empowered future.

Raising the bar is what great teams do, for the results, for the process, for the individuals within.   Living with high expectations is an uncomfortable gift, making demands while returning rewards.  When others have low expectations of you, seeing you as abject, it’s easy to live down to them, easy to lose pride and presence.

Bold, vibrant and life affirming, great teams come together with shared purpose and passion to give us the power to be more than a singleton, a community who symbiotically becomes more than the sum of our parts to create greatness beyond expectations, possibilities beyond separation.

5) The most painful thing about trans is not being able to give your gifts and have them accepted.

When I wrote that in 2002, I was simply expressing my team dreams, my need to be seen, understood and valued for my unique contributions to the group.

Isn’t that, just, though, a sign of my deep humanity?

Solo Conversation

“When you were a child, did you play alone a lot?” asked Colleen, the aspiring teacher I dated freshman year.

As we were both taking Childhood Development 101, it was an obvious observation.

The answer, of course, is yes.   I always played alone.   Name the year, I played alone.   I still do.

I have a rich, deep and fulfilling conversation with myself.

This doesn’t mean that I am isolated.   I soak up other people’s voices like a sponge, absorbing and integrating what they have to share.   I listen, to media, to those few around me, to history books read through my headphones, to the noise of the world.

I just don’t need others to have a conversation about what I hear.   My own threads, grounded in that “Jonathan Winters Energy” I have had forever, keep the discussion going in my head, always searching for connections which offer insight and understanding.

Chatting with others is a way I offer service, listening and mirroring, being present, but those interactions almost never reach down far enough to stimulate and satisfy my mental, emotional and spiritual engagement.

The tag line for this blog has been the same for well over a decade, reflecting how much people value it when I enter their world but how hard they find it to enter mine.   Most of the time, they just assume my mind is in the same space that theirs is, that whatever their conventions, that’s where other people exist.   They not only don’t get my joke, they don’t even get that I offer jokes.

I really like the series filmed at the Bronx Zoo because it combines the best of NYC and of nature.   The team knows what it means to be smart and value diversity, being there to help other creatures, be those zoo animals, visitors or staff who range from PhDs to carpenters.    They work together for best case outcomes.

Growing up with Aspergers parents, I have intense experience with those whose brain falls into ruts, who go back time and time again to their own hobby horses.   They like what they know they know..

This makes it very difficult for them to evaluate the situation, understand and keep moving forward.   It’s very hard to build change when the agreements keep slipping backwards, lost in the conventions, rituals and habits built to keep lives stable in an fast intense, crazy and challenging world.

I don’t just experience this rutted pattern with those who are obviously on the spectrum, I feel it in almost all of my interactions with others.   They are mostly tourists, looking for sensation, affirmation and routines, rather than travellers, searching for the sharpness of transformation driven by divine surprises, by the miracle of seeing anew.

Entitlement is always blithe, putting your assumptions, expectations and desires above others, just going for what you want because that’s the right way.   Blithe entitlement allows you to know that it is people like you who can save society, that you are a natural aristocrat, gifted with the proper world view and the correct answers.

Society likes patterns.   It keeps people in control, manageable and manipulable. Propagandists know that giving people stories that reinforce what they already believe, what they expect to hear, is the easiest way to get them to make controlled choices.  Living in the moment between stimulus and response means making aware choices, not just following the rules.

My voice is too queer, as I keep getting told.   And the solution for that is to throttle back, play small, get along, police myself to fit in, at least to those who are resisting their own queerness, suppressing their own challenging voice to fit in with the crowd.

Instead, I engage with the person who has always been there for me, who listens and understands.   Me.    I am a visionary rather than a missionary, a theologian rather than an evangelist,  a broadcaster rather than an actor.   The meta has always been my salvation, understanding those around me, rather than just saying what I know they are ready & able to hear.

I know the limits of that approach.   No matter how much I channel other voices, speaking encouragement, I am bound by the limits of my own energy.   I don’t get feedback loops that “pump me up.”   And my own views always have to be questioned, so I over limit myself to stay away from the trap of arrogance & entitlement.

I stand no chance of having my ego run away with me, not anymore.

This habit of solo conversation is reflected in the current paucity of this blog.   I have plenty of notes, observations, connections, but I end up just sharing them with myself.   This blog, as opposed to my decade of political writing, has always been about expression and reflection, about the process of coming to internal understanding, more than it has been about building an audience, meeting people where they are, trying to start a conversation.

I have always played alone.

Does that mean that I don’t have human needs and desires, like the desire for understanding, for touch, for just having someone smile at me like I light up their world?    Hell no.   Wounded healers may need to stay in the healing, but those deep wounds are always there, like the wounds of a child who has to put aside their emotional needs to stay protected in the deep internal cerebral conversation which was their only means of self care.

I know what people want from me.   They want me to say what they need to hear in the world, want me to serve their current issues with my intense, witty smarts.

What I want from them, though, is something I have learned not to dream about.

It’s very much a solo conversation when I play alone.