Art by terryliebchen on Instagram
Hello again, my name is Terry Scott. I write sometimes. I live in St Paul, MN. Please don’t think that my website is dirty because of the name. It is merely a name. Nothing much in it. Also, please read my article in its entirety before coming to judgement, and thanks for that in advance.
Here, I will write to you about what I think, and what is on my mind. I have no aim, it’s free association. Nothing more, nothing less. These are just ideas I have at the moment, on a Saturday, on my couch, in the morning, in the Midwest, no labels, some teamwork.
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And so the story begins…
Rows of Ranges
Let me start by saying that this week I discovered successful teamwork, damaging mislabels in the form of labels (again), and precious moments everywhere I looked because I wanted to. What they mean, and how they change me, I will attempt to explain below in the best way I can, with my common eclectic colloquial language. My week was varied, toilsome, and celebratory, in ways that I could not understand until now because of how sleepy I was. My week was a week. Yeah…
(I digress: The inevitable precious moments must come first. Why not start out positively? I love my son, I love my wife, and I love free thought, happy interactions, and meaningful conversation. I will get that out of the way for purposes of delving into ideas unbounded, uninhibited. Changing diapers is precious, getting pee-ed on is precious, and baby talk is also precious, and presents a certain beautiful arcana.)
You see, the importance of these ideas mentioned in the first paragraph actually touch us more than the election 2016 results (admit it), even though those results touched us at the very level we exist in, insanely. Everyone got sad. The importance, and unimportance, of teamwork, mislabels, and moments are what we make them. I will admit, teamwork was the most importance right here. But all of these concepts are tightly intertwined. Like people in America.
At work, my job can be varied. My position seems always fulfilling and always random, and still always purposed. I act as a facilities liaison doing projects throughout a campus of libraries in a major academic setting. For the last month or so I have been moving periodical shelving out of a basement location, study area, and moving them, the shelving and its hardware particularly, into a completely different area for space saving reasons.
Aside from the odds and ends one might find placed between cleared shelves, and placed under shelves, from decades ago, one might find immensely hard work. One will find that one does not do immensely hard work alone; one needs other ones, many other ones: one needs teamwork to complete this sort of task. That was the most beneficial thing found between the stacks. Teamwork.
This teamwork was something important. Something important for thought’s sake, especially in our Now America. I aver, it mattered not the ideology of others I worked with, only that we saw our task through to fruition, this seemingly impossible task. I did my part, others did theirs as well, and most got along, and we completed our project. It was beautiful, it was something that our nation could learn from. Smaller yet, I certainly learned from it.
The work was hard. Since the middle of summer I counted shelving, had to be exact. I sat over sheets of paper, diagrams, walked through ranges; counted bases, bases, frames, shelves. Measured the sizes: 9″ and 11″, needed 10″, 12″, and 16″. (I am horrible at math, so added challenge.) My project, it depended on me. Early November I was tasked to create space, it was first priority, to start pulling shelves, setting up pallets, unbolting frames, unscrewing bases, and complete the task on time. I had one month. Go.
Watching this project unfold was powerful. I thought it couldn’t be done. I spent all of my woken days there, even a Saturday, and very early mornings. The more I finished the more I had to do, it appeared. (Being a new father as well, getting up in the morning was a sometimes challenge.) Soon, I found that I could not do this work alone. Without my colleagues I could not have fulfilled my task. I sought help. Found it.
More than anything else, the setbacks, the outside forces, the inevitable issues to arise, the physical and mental challenges at present were extremely meaningful. I had to overcome the idea that couldn’t do something, a project so massive and crucial to the libraries, and believe that I could do something. With everyone watching, I had to do without judgement or reservation. To meet completion.
Now, I look at this as an allegory for our society, the I HAVE TO PART, THE BELIEVE I CAN PART. Why can’t we put our beliefs aside and get along for the common good, to make things happen? To be the part and just do. Had I labeled this task impossible, it may not have been completed. Had I thought my colleagues as this and that would I have been able to see them as amazingly talented, hard workers? I have no idea, I never thought that. I thought do, do, do; make, make, make; create, create, create, until finished.
Looking back now, I think of the social aspects of this exchange, and sadly, how they differ from outside life. How the outside life lacks this doing for doing and creating for better. Have we come so far politically, in the United States, that we can no longer exist socially? Trapped in our bubbles, the illusion of being safe, and wrongly believing it necessary to be that way. I found that this last month I have cleaned out my phone; blocked numbers that had been contacts for years, simply out of ideological differences, because of their need for this fantastical safety. (It’s becoming very close to the American Dream now, I posit The American Safeness.)
(Moreover, all is well with this cleanse, no hard feelings. (Friendships sometimes, if meaningful, stay like bears in the winter; they hibernate.) I deactivated my Facebook account, I found myself happier. I don’t need a profile for people to interpret who I am or am not. (Also, I am not a billboard for corporations.) They can come find me and talk to me and try to understand me. I told people off who labeled me unjustly, unfairly, by the same ways of the media, in words they may not understand–I feel, why have someone in my life that doesn’t offer me something positive? I feel like a Smith’s song.)
At times our passions do take over, this is obvious, we flawed people, all of us in particular! At times we take our sharp eyes off the grand prize, we digress for what we think is genuinely beneficial, which may be a well-placed mirage. I think of Faustian, the word: Sacrificing ones spiritual beliefs for knowledge, or the concept of “knowledge” (in my opinion). It is as though we must sacrifice our very deep political beliefs, or viewpoints, for our engaging social intercourses and interactions to even attempt to prosper.
Rightly so, if I say something on Twitter or in an article or in a blog post or within a poem, and that idea goes against what the progressive groups or mainstream idealists feel is “factual”, then I risk being labeled a bigot, a racist, a xenophobe, with ease, without a moment of hesitation. And this happens all the time, scroll a political Reddit post, find a Twitter feed of impassioned Democrats (or Republicans), check out the comment section at RT. A bunch of know-it-alls, all while not listening to their peers.
For example, I study words, I have looked at words, I have a B.A. in English, an A.A. in Fine Arts, tho I am no expert, I don’t claim to be, I don’t “know” it all; still I feel these words people use have become as powerful as love and hate, as people would tell me as a child. They should be used sparingly, with exactness.
Yet still those implementing these words do not grasp their meaning. Probably I won’t try to throw out words I do not understand with such boldness as certain individuals do freely, constantly now, at others. All words are theories of their definitions. Try to figure that out. Labels are crutches for those afraid of the unknown, in attempt to define it as less, because it is neither.
These words carry meanings and histories that are demeaning when misused so openly, when put out for the entire internet to see, and they hurt people, and they put people down, and they spread more hate and confusion, ironically. Words like these can wreak serious havoc for someone trying to exist in modern society. Label someone something and then start tearing them apart, or down, because it’s easier when you “know” how they are by the labels you choose to place on them.
And now you are wondering how this piece ties into teamwork and labels and moments, all combined. Yes. Me too. Well, at any moment a person can be good, bad, or indifferent. Found in any of those states can be defined by that. So, when labeling a person, think of this: you are different each second that you exist; when you contradict yourself you are learning more about yourself, becoming a more enlightened individual. Changing your mind is not a bad thing, it means you are becoming smarter. (The mainstream media doesn’t agree: they call it flip-flopping. Bad!) Your brain is growing out of its shell. Next moment, you or I could be smarter–give us that chance! Do it without calling foul!
In any situation, or moment, we try to define something, we try to make it our own by our words, we try to possess something in words and ideas. It’s call exonym: IMO: we define something from outside of something; within and without the frame, as a subject. Perhaps labeling people is a Western phenomena we have learned in way of possession. See if those who disagree with Western ideologies the most employee this Western labeling technique the least. See if those who detest and disparage something do that very something in their actions. Hate because of hate; violence because of violence; the excuse: a means to an end, typical hypocritical.
Beyond that, labels are about as meaningful as the sound of a toilet flushing on a Tuesday at 11 AM as some clouds float over. I could label my floor dirty in one moment, and five minutes later sweep, and then label the same floor as clean. Labels mean nothing, other than you can see something and presume a whole by a small part, and tell your assuming friends and presume more about that made up subject, and be right or wrong, whatever you call it. It’s easy. Even a cat can do this; take a plastic bag and shake it, see what the cat “knows” about getting fed in its actions. The cat runs to you, even without you holding food.
And back to the subject of teamwork. I love teamwork when teamwork is working. Some of the worst moments in my past have been teamwork moments, but overcome; having to give a group presentation and no one showing up. Everyone has dealt with a similar instance, well most–and if you haven’t, it sucks giant dork.
This teamwork over the past month showed me that even different people from different backgrounds working together can build the Titanic, or take down a massive collection of periodicals, or find the same necessary conclusion from differing viewpoints. It showed me that we must talk before we assume things by labels, by political ideologies, and work together as a team. Teamwork.
In conclusion, Teamwork is amazing, doing the impossible is amazing (stupid overused word). America needs to have more amazing teamwork, and do the impossible more often–that being talk about ideas openly without the pressures of judgement. More positive interaction instead of none.
I will admit I am guilty of stopping conversation for negativity–do forgive. Because in stopping conversation that was only stagnated by the popular/trendy words we choose to use–those words coming from the television, from the online news sites, from the group think rallies or movements or protests that do not welcome opposing ideas, even though to grow they must–we gain imperturbable equilibrium in their absence.
Lastly, most importantly, I implore, open a book and see how the characters within that book talk together. See the dialogue. How do they discuss things–feelings, ideas, opinions, respectfully or disrespectfully? Think about which character you are, which vocabulary you wish to use to describe the things on your mind so accurately, your important opinion, like everyone else.
Have empathy and wisdom, show respect of differing viewpoints. And ask yourself: what words do they use to converse, to make things happen, to move the plot, to show themselves as they are by words rather than labels. Because you won’t find any of those words in the daily news you read or see on tv.