On the Balance of Professional Responsibility, Joy Rides, and the Fate of the Universe.


 won’t lie: Working in niche fields is a wild ride that requires balance. Sometimes, it goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun. But there comes a time when I need to get off that bumpy, mind-expanding rollercoaster, and back to the public transit system as it were, and get down to business.

I plan things out, give & receive orders, cut & measure, execute, analyze the results, report the successes and failures, and adjust as needed. Eventually, though, that, too, becomes unacceptably dull and I can’t resist jumping back on that wild ride… until I’ve yet again had my fill, and its back to the routine, and so on and so forth, forever until the end. The balancing act is never-ending.

Walking a Fine Line

This is largely my approach to business, if not also life: A sort of modified, daily dialectic, if you will. There are responsibilities to be balanced, taken care of, respected, even, for without them we’d have chaos. I like to think accounting is one of these things, and as such I secure the services of an accountant. This is just one of many examples of how to adult.

There are also challenges to face, but also, and more importantly, to be sought. On one hand, this is simply for the gratification it brings – a life boringly lived isn’t really one at all, IMO. On the other, it actually serves a greater, or at least wider, calling: to purposefully contribute to making the status quo uncomfortable.

Now, off the bat that might sound juvenile, the sort of thing a 14 year old punk would say without grasping much of the intricacies of the real world mentioned in the opening paragraph. And that’s kind of true: 14 year old me had countless conversations while skateboarding about burning down this or that system, or raging against the machine in the pit. That part of me certainly remains.

Fire image for On Balance blog

Life Skills

But, you know, you grow up, and you learn things, like time management, professional etiquette, or formal commitments, and you achieve some semblance of balance. These are not fun or easy things to learn for a lot of people, and I was no different. But you do put up with them, adjust with them, and even appreciate them. That’s some Brvtal Advlting right there.

And it’s good, you know? Being able to manage your affairs skillfully is kind of a major accomplishment that makes your own life and that of the others you interact with all the better. Not knocking being responsible, trust me, but…

All Too Familiar

There is that part of me that still wonders. That part of me that questions, but not necessarily because there’s something immediately apparent that requires investigation, although that is sometimes the case, too.

Rather, it’s because an uncurious mind is by definition not as sharp as it could be. On the individual balance scale, this applies to things like personal accomplishment, and I’m certainly concerned with that. However, that’s not my main focus here.

Matthew Ketchum looking at Kazuko Miyamoto piece for On Balance... blog

Rather, it’s the expansion of that dullness to the… Professional Plurality, let’s call it… that is of interest. Huh. “Professional Plurality.” I just came up with that, but it’s kind of a funny phrase if you think about it. The Professional Masses Considered as One Entity, is what I mean by it. Sort of a combination of zeitgeist and phalanx.

The Balancing of the Masses

And that balanced Plurality bugs me a good bit these days. There are certainly exciting developments going on all over the place – Vaccines! Silver nanoparticle infused paper water filters! NFTs! The James Webb Telescope! – and so I’m not displeased with how the arrow of time is moving forward. But there is a malaise inside of me, and some impatience, that laments the trajectory of perfect balance we seem to be on. Specifically in the sense that it isn’t being as weirdly creative with available resources. It’s overly safe.

We humans seem to really like new, shiny, expensive spectacles. This depends on geography, culture, background, etc., so to each their own, but I bet if you map out the Desires of a wide swathe of peoples with a sufficiently extrapolated calculus, they’d probably track to a similar pattern or patterns. And, honestly, that’s fine, god knows I do that shit. And these Desires are what we end up willing into existence, as the market demands.

But that malaise I spoke of whispers in my ear, enticingly, “there’s more.” But not more iPhones or shitcoins or whatever – those are well and good but, eh, I’ve had my fill. No, the curiosity in me slyly hints that those patterns I bet many of us would track to aren’t the only patterns. Extrapolate from that, and you can start wondering if the products and services we joyously consume aren’t the only ones possible.

Dialectic Progress

Said another way, it’s as if we’re only interacting with one genera of products and services, which are specifically those that are resultant of the Plurality’s whims, and none other.

Suppose that the reason some products don’t currently exist isn’t because they ought not, but rather the circumstances for them to exist haven’t yet been achieved. There could be whole other taxonomies of astounding products, but we just haven’t discovered them because we’re so steadfast on this path (which is left purposefully nebulous) and not any other?

I feel like there’s some discovery that we’re all collectively missing out on. But fear not, opportunity abounds. Just look around you, there’re any number of adventures to be had if you look hard enough.

String intertwining for On Balance... blog

A Balanced Approach

So do yourself and humankind a favor simultaneously by scheduling in a bit of time every once in a while to find whatever wild ride suits yr fancy at the moment. Don’t throw caution to the wind – make sure you’ve locked the door, tucked the kids in, and filed yr taxes. But if you prepare properly, the worst that’ll happen is you end up with a great story. If you’re real lucky, you might just uncover entirely new universes for us all to explore!

Read the genesis post on Linkedin here.