Depending upon how well you know me, saying stepping into a person in power's office has rarely gone well will hardly come as a surprise. I could say it was the bullying stories, and how the powers that be who played favorites-despite the lies that didn't-couldn't be bothered and the repercussions from the si lai nan jen for me were like abused children and battered women from film and story-tell 'em you fell down the stairs. Or perhaps it was my solitary/independent streak a mile wide, despite the fact I am the thickness of wind myself, that might be most easily described as chaotic neutral-fuck you, I do what I do and go my own way, respect is earned not implied, fucking deal. Or, perhaps, when I finally was able to stand up for myself, and I might have gone up against those who would've brutalized a scrawny aberration in the past and won, but needed to understand my place-fuck you, my place is not beholden to you. Or perhaps when I was told I am not a team player-yeh? don't work and play well with others? see the afore mentioned solitary/independent streak.
So, imagine, gentle readers, how well I'd been coping with the last few days...
It was a combination of a research project, being a bundle of nerves, and getting ready to go toe to toe. I worried I was wasting not only my time, but the time of cats who had earned my respect. A million negative scenarios played in a cinematic magic venue, whilst the positive vignettes were so few and far between.
I had my mantras...
There was Frank Herbert;
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain..."
"The key to victory in a military operation is deception. Though effective, appear ineffective. Though competent, appear incompetent..."
and Henry Rollins;
"Confrontation takes little thought...any one can confront. It's what you do afterward that tells you what you are..."
Horrific dark belligerent things, I confess...
But as I walked up those stairs, some comforting words from Sabina in mind, there was but one mantra I had in mind, and it wasn't Buddhist;
Tally-ho and away I go...
The preservationist has the countenance of my grandmother. Perhaps therein lies reason and rational for not wanting to waste her time. She has power; unspoken, but understood. Here is someone who could make my existence exceedingly difficult if I gave her an offensive glance. And the rub is, I respect her, so why would I want to commit such an affront? I might bare my jugular to no one, but I do have a sense of decorum.
So, I showed up tentatively. Despite my bristling and mantras, I knew I was not going to war. I needed help. In the moment, I was student seeking instruction from a learned master.
"Go ahead and sit down," she said sweetly. We spent a few moments where she explained some ski techniques to me before saying; "So, let's see what you've got here."
"Please understand this is my first rodeo," I said softly. "I'm not completely sure what I'm doing."
I told her how the trouble started. I mentioned a silly, childish fantasy of either living in a museum or a nature preserve, and how, within the borders of our Sahel, here I was; my Kashmir. I spoke of not wanting any of it to be taken away, but for its magic to be more widely enjoyed. Perhaps I was being a little too child-like.
In the manner of a kindly grandparent, of the most encouraging of teachers, she indulged me. She asked questions and pointed out things I'd not thought of. It was encouraging to see that she was interested. Very much so, in fact. Although, I don't actively seek validation, it was cool to see my idea was not a waste of time.
There is now a file started in her office titled World Heritage. I was sent on my way with some homework to do; outstanding questions that require answers, people to talk to who might be of some help. We are to meet in a few weeks, the rational being if we put it off, it'll fall by the wayside.
So now I'm committed, or perhaps should be. This could take a few years to actually accomplish and I might have to learn how to play politics, as loathsome as that seems. The upshot is I know I have at least one ally in this zany quest of mine. As I left, my head swam with kaleidoscope of thoughts, but one thing stood out quite prevalently; that old cliché of the journey of a thousand miles, and that first step.
Well, tally-ho and away I go...