Friday, November 2, 2001


Last night, we were invited out to dinner. I went with a strange mix of anticipation and trepidation.

Anticipation, because we had not seen each other as two couples for months. And trepidation, as I was braced, wondering, "Who's upset with whom and why? " 

Over the last two months, our relationship with our successor designates had been become shaky.  What I had believed to be solid foundations were seemingly tenuous. Destabilized, I was close to emotionally bailing out.

Thank goodness for Cia. She threw a couple of agreements in my face to wake me up to my commitments. I love that gal.

It turned out to be a most enjoyable evening.  The person I once knew, who I thought was gone ...  was ...  BACK!  He and his wife were relaxed, open and positive, as were we.  

Things were as they once were.  A comfortable ease.  A wanting to be together.  Friendly exchanges.

Talking on a human level, we caught up on everyday things, about the joys in our lives, especially our dogs. The two hours were well-spent, mainly "talking story."

Today, I am feeling much better about him, about both of them. Hopefully, a page has been turned, never to be reread again.

"Spend your time counting your blessings, 
not airing your complaints."

Mid-dinner, a complaint crept into the conversation.  I acknowledged it, then suggested that they make it an opportunity for learning.  

In a Perfect World

No one is exempt from misunderstandings and upsets. That's life. What distinguishes successful people is that they are honest with their emotions (no pussyfooting) and they confront, clarify, and handle situations. 

"Learn by doing" is time-tested and -proven. I want them hone their lifeskills on their own, in order to help themselves. They seemed receptive to the suggestion that they would have a heart-to-heart with a co-worker.  

Leadership is part and parcel of our professional positions, not only with our clients but with our co-workers.  We are expected to assume leadership roles.  As professionals in our field, we are paid to lead. 

If after their best efforts at resolution,  an impasse is met, then and only then, will I serve as mediator. If they are our future successors, they must pick up the reins and do so willingly, acquiring skill with hands-on practice. Learn by doing.

Holding the reins comes with the territory. As a client, I would not want to be on a buggy without a skilled driver, and an office must be run by those who can hold to the reins with earned confidence and proven competence.


"Birds of a feather flock together."

For  our clients' sakes, as well as our co-workers', I am selecting and grooming strong, high integrity leaders to replace me.  

I am looking for effective leaders with strength, determination, and intelligence, as well as capacities for compassion and grace. Our office serves a large Hawai'i-rooted clientele, and the willingness of our successors to willingly perpetuate core human values, carefully nurtured and cultivated for almost 20 years, is paramount to us. 

I am running out of time, so there is a certain sense of urgency.  Maybe not as urgent as tomorrow, but soon.  One day, I will not be here. I am 50 and wish to be fully available for my next calling -- to write on professional and spiritual matters, as well as from the heart.  I am uncomfortable with keeping God on hold. 

For the past two years, this couple has worked at our office as our successor designates. We have known him and his family for 18 years, since he was ten years old, and she is his wife from Hawai`i, who he met in professional school, six years ago.

The person I'd known for 17 of those years was lighthearted, joyful, and fun. His smile, his thoughtfulness, and his laugh were endearing.  I enjoyed his positive energy.  

Upbeat, he thought, planned and expected positive results. He was clear with his goals and focused in pursuing them. 


"You can either be the designer of your life,
or the captive of circumstances."
~ R. Redenbaugh

He was a can-do, take-charge type of guy, believing in making the future happen, in being the captain of his own fate, the master of his own destiny.

Expressing that he wanted to be a captain of his own fate, he was selected by us, above 16 others (all clients at our office) who followed in my professional footsteps. We passed over three appealing business arrangements to give him his shot -- his opportunity --  as I'd been given, 18 years before.

Both former Scouts, we had taken our oaths:


On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
[A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent]
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight. 

I continue to abide by the oath and the scout law, supporting and living its life-enhancing precepts.  His behavior indicated that he did the same.

His kindness and courteousness to our co-workers, clients, and to us, showed me he was a committed Scout.  In particular, his considerate and respectful interaction with his grandmother caught my attention.  Loving my grandmother as I do, my heart warms to those who love theirs.  

"Remember, truth is still truth even if it makes you mad or sad."

In early September, at the reception desk and to my surprise and two co-workers', he announced that he and his wife were taking a week off during the holidays. 


He knew, I knew, we all knew that this would be the worst time to do so, not just for the sake of the office, but for our clients.  The younger clients return to us during their Christmas break and at year's end, flex accounts need to be depleted. 

This is akin to an H&R Block tax preparer telling his office that he will be vacationing during the week before April 15th.  

I was being placed in "that" place.  You know the one: between a rock and a hard place.  I was flattened. Squish.

Just as on 9-11-01, I was so taken by surprise that I was speechless. I felt my heart breaking. 


"There’s strength in numbers."

Over the years, as our client base grew, we added associates to provide coverage, especially for the busiest, in-demand times in the year. We were finally reaping the perks of our focused work.

As students, my husband and I worked every holiday week to afford Christmas presents to send back to our families, and for more than ten years at the office, my husband and I together worked every Christmas break, which is one of two weeks in the school year when he is on vacation from his work.  We did it willingly, by choice and for our clients, as much as we would have loved to have flown home to be with our families.  We had paid our dues.  

The news came just as he was wrapping up his second year of associateship.

Just as with the world events, I asked, " WWJD?" -- What would Jesus do?  I was being morally challenged on two fronts. I set aside my initial dumbfoundedness, fears, and anger, and began praying for understanding, compassion, and forgiveness, not only for the events of the world, but close to home, my heart.  

I pledged to turn this negative into a positive, to begin to look for silver linings, but first, I needed to help myself by seeking understanding.

Why didn't he just ask?  

If he had simply  asked -- instead of demanding with a declaration -- we and our co-workers would have helped him work out his sticky situation. We can empathize how sticky in-law situations can be. 

Why wasn't he being himself?  If he'd just been himself, courteous and respectful, his approach would have been solicitous and conciliatory, easier to accept and deal with on a win-win basis.  Instead, he chose a brash and discourteous approach. 

I choose to not assume that he is brash and discourteous.  I will look, really look at each aspect of this scenario, at each niggling detail. Like a jigsaw puzzle, I intend to put this fractured picture together.

I solve best when I write.

Hang in with me.  I am seeing this as a challenge-series puzzle. After last night, I am motivated to meet the challenge, unravel its knottiness, and solve this puzzle, without even one piece missing.

I am striving toward wholeness. The big picture.

"The truth hurts for a moment. 
A lie hurts for a long time."

This is November, it's taken this long to write about it, in large part due to the world events triggered by 9-11.  Everything else seemed trivial in comparison, including my losses. When Cia urged me to talk to him about it, I was not ready.   

My emotions were roiling.  My reactions would be colored by the uncertainty of  the world events.  Overwhelmed, before working on this complex puzzle, I needed the balm of time to sit on it, assimilate, and find my center again . There was more to this than what was meeting our eyes.

I sat on it for a week, before I could bring the office situation up with my husband, and I don't keep anything from him!  I am aware that things are still sensitive, two months later. I may be able to write about it, but I still can't talk about it. 

No one is exempt from making mistakes. Had I made a mistake?  Were the tendencies for brashness and discourtesy there, just below the surface?  Had I discerned them...

  • Would I would have recommended him for admission into my alma mater, into my profession? No.

  • Would I would have hired such a person as a student worker in our office paid with monies that previously funded a student scholarship that we had made in my predecessor's name?  No.

  • Would I have hired him as a professional, right after licensure?  No.

  • Would I have designated him as my successor?  No.

  • Would we have hired his intended wife?  No.

No one is perfect.  The human condition: We have each have our quirks and idiosyncrasies, bits and pieces of every quality.  The same quality that may be non-enhancing in a situation may be harmless, or even beneficial in another. Brashness and discourteousness are hardly faults for those who work primarily with inanimate objects, say a computer, perhaps strengths for those in adversarial positions.  For a person who is in a people-oriented, helping profession, they are dooming.

Had I blinded myself to see only the qualities I wanted to see? 

"We can go a lot farther together than we can alone."

When my husband and I believe in someone, we go all out.  We turn into pretzels, bending over backwards to help those who are helping themselves.  We've been there.  We know the weariness of struggle, of making ends meet. We are now in a position to help, give back with a helping hand.

We decided that we would walk the extra mile by employing his future wife at a time when it was not economically opportune.  We sacrificed some of our retirement/ profit-sharing funds to take her on as an employee during the slower time of the year.

On a practical level, we needed to get to know her before we could make any long-term commitments. (We like her) 

Working together, they would have a chance to learn if they were a team, ready to take on commitments that would impact them as a couple. After all, most divorces are caused by money and work-related problems. We had already passed on three prospects because of their spouses; we liked the prospects, but their spouses were inclined to be takers, not givers, with "what's in it for me" hang-ups that would be hard to overcome, or the marriages were rocky, period. 

California's no fault divorce status has contributed to the collapse of many successful businesses.  With more than one in two marriages failing, we are not foolish gamblers.  I come from a divorced family, and I know how counterpurposes can wreak havoc on a thriving business.

Before the partnership reins were handed to us, my predecessor and his wife, both with histories of multiple marriages and accompanying "baggage" from them, made certain that my husband and I were a compatible team with solid foundations, i.e., a secure marriage. If they were to finance us, "maybe" was not good enough. They only proceeded when they felt confident that we were a sure bet. They were not risking their retirement security on just any couple.  If we failed, they would, at their ages, be unable to recoup their losses.

Although we had been financially independent from our parents since our marriage at age 22, my husband and I came from upper middle-class families with ample safety-net financial reserves to cover our debts if we failed.  That assured them, but more importantly, they saw that we were steeled with good, old-fashioned mettle.  

We had weathered our lean times of struggle, putting ourselves through graduate and professional schools, without relying on our parents.

"Listening may be the most important thing you do today."

Fear breeds paranoia, and when he made his announcement, I was not immune.  We are either love, or we are fear. 

I became fearful, and I decided to confront fear, head-on. Seeking understanding, I sought answers. I explored and entertained my worse fears, listening to their messages.  

I was afraid to believe it, but was this "other" person lurking just beneath the social mask we wear, the one that thrives on approval and shows only what it wants others to see? 

I feared that I had merely imagined our soul connection.  I feared that I had deluded myself, creating an illusion.

I feared for our clients: Would he treat them similarly, once their honeymoon period was over? 

Mask or no mask, one thing was certain: his behavior was that of a stranger to me. In hindsight, during the year, I had sensed an emotional distancing. I attributed it to lifestyle adjustments: exchanging the relatively carefree life of student to assume the serious responsibilities of a new profession and career; a new marriage, new in-laws, bills, long commutes, a new house, a mortgage, etc.  

That night in September, I feared that I had lost not only a future partner and successor, but someone who I thought of as the son I never had.  You see, when we love, we love each other like adopted family, hanai-an style. It's a Hawaiian thing. 

I feared losing the earnest young man I once knew, the one who was eager to learn and at the ready to help.  The one with the strong work ethic, who needed no prompting.  The self-initiator. The one who was energetic and enthusiastic. The one with the lofty ideals and huge goals.

The one who was open, positive, and considerate, and easy to love. 

My fear did not turn to anger.  It turned into sadness, into a slow grief.  I dropped my fear, and returned to love.

If this was who he was, I would accept it.  I have my share of warts. I'd love him for whoever he was.  Just as I was moving on, I looked back and wondered: 

Or was it his fear that tipped the scales, as Cia suggested?

Presented with a situation like this would his reaction have been anger?  Did he project that anger onto me?

Did he then become afraid that I would be angry, so instead of being conciliatory, he did the testosterone thing of coming on strong and aggressive by giving me no options?  "So there, take it or leave it!"

That approach works very well with low self-esteem, weak women.  Strong women who know God is on their side may" take it" out of compassion, but they also leave, in order to keep honoring their god-within. 

Was he afraid that I would say no, and he would have to deal with it with his wife and in-laws?  Family first, risk the job?

Or was this simply a lapse in judgment on his part?  Even monkeys fall from trees.

"An overt is a transgression against the moral code of a group.  It is described as an aggressive or destructive act by the individual against another or others."  

Cia said that she and Doni were as incredulous as I was with how he handled the situation. Being less emotionally attached and more in touch and articulate with her feelings than I was, Cia later let him know how his announcement impacted the office, them, and me. 

"You should have asked, not told her," she said to him. 

His psyche had been informed, in no uncertain terms, that he had transgressed against the office moral code of Aloha -- of courtesy and concern for others -- and that his announcement was an aggressive, if not destructive, act. To protect itself or make itself less guilty or wrong, the ego often subconsciously then resorts to its usual psychological defenses

A month later, as is typical in any business, a few misunderstandings had arisen and client comments needed to be addressed. We met over lunch. Reviewing the agreements beforehand, I kept my communications with him "in the direction of truth and love,"  with tact and impeccability. 

From his vaguely defensive reactions, I was not about to bring up deeper "issues." 

The next day,  his wife shared with me that his feelings were hurt. "He's very sensitive."  The between-the-lines message I picked up was that I was picking on him.

I, well, I blew my mind. He was projecting his overt on me!  

Now, what would be the sense of my hurting him?  

Would I hurt someone I had, on several occasions, gotten out on a thin  limb for, backing him up, and building him up in the eyes of our clients, smoothed things over?  No.

Would I hurt someone I'd  taken chances on based on liking him and having faith in him, investing heavily in his future, not only financially, but with my whole heart? No.

Would I hurt someone I regarded as family? No. 

If I didn't tell him what he  was doing wrong unknowingly or less than optimally, who would?  Or could?      

Thereafter, I was disinclined to initiate assistance.  The  last thing I wanted to do was to " hurt" his feelings.  If what I was offering as feedback from his clients -- opportunities for growth -- was being interpreted with a negative slant, then so be it.  

I had been rebuffed -- discounted -- with a psychological defense, a projection so transparent that a Psych 101 student  could have seen right through it.  The classic kettle calling the pot black.

Life is about choices. I choose not to live in fear.  Walking on eggs is walking in fear. It's draining, and all concerned become less than who they are. 

We were now marching to different drummers.  I began to emotionally detach.  Some relationships are meant to be, and others not. Some are meant to be short-lived; others, for life; and a few, for eternity.

In the big scheme of things, each is a necessary stepping stone in the positive direction, no matter how well disguised.


"Seek and ye shall find." 

Disengaging doesn't happen overnight. I remained concerned and committed to him at the heart level, as I clearly sensed that something was going on with him, on the soul level. 

In the course of a year, he'd became serious. Several of us noticed it, commented on it, and hoped that it was just a passing phase. Once, he was even antagonistic, almost combative, with a co-worker. That was hard for me to believe then, now I could imagine it.

Once contagiously positive and confident, he was more withdrawn. When he communicated beyond the pleasantries, it was to express his discontent about his co-workers'  work habits, attitudes, or performances. 

For those who lead busy lives, there's never enough time.  We know full well, however, that one makes the time for those high on the priority list. I realized, that over the year, I was doing the initiating. 

His growing passivity baffled me all year long, as I saw him throw his hands up, yielding to captivity by circumstances. No, not a victim of circumstances, but an unwitting captive of them.  

[Victim is not part of my working vocabulary. It’s a word that implies passivity, helplessness, being at the mercy of others and the vagaries of fortune.] 

Where was that take-change, go-getter young man I had known?


A wise person learns from experience,
but a wiser person learns from the experience of others.

I have only my past experiences to go by, and this was not how it was when I worked for and with my predecessor. I had to clarify my thoughts, my expectations, my hopes and dreams for the future.

No relationship is identical. 

But I was aiming for a  growth-enhancing, affectionate relationship, similar to the ones shared by my predecessor and me for 15 years and my husband and me for 30 years.  I will settle for no less.  Maybe this was not what he was aiming for...

Meeting my predecessor was my Kairos, Greek for "moment of opportunity."  I didn't know it then and there, but I certainly did as I got to know him.

I enjoyed the time spent with my predecessor, sought out his company, looking forward to our next visit. As the rookie, it was incumbent on me to facilitate our meetings. When he first hired me, I was expected to be at the office two days a week. I was there five days a week, in large part to free my predecessor of his  "drudge" work, so I could intercept and take him out to lunch to pick his brain.

I wanted to learn the ropes from him, first-hand,  rather than from sterile books and journals. He knew his clientele best. He knew best what made his business successful.  He had 50 years of experience, ups and downs, victories and defeats, and past mistakes to draw upon.

At 75 years old with an imminent disability, my predecessor would not be at the office for long. I wasted no time. There was not enough time to learn all of his wisdom. In  short order, he became my mentor and yes, a grandfather-figure, too. (That Hawaiian thing). 

I loved it. He did, too, and we began to forge a strong and loyal relationship. We were making deep and lasting impressions on each other.

Maybe all of this was unimportant to my successor designate...


"To get the most out of a relationship, 
put all you can into it."

If I were to fill my predecessor's shoes, I'd be smart to learn his every nuance of doing things,  what were the elements of his charisma with him with his well-established clientele,  and what made him tick.  

To continue the office's success and provide the care to which his clients had grown accustomed, I knew that it was incumbent on me to accommodate to them, not the other way around.  

He loved his clients, serving as many as four generations in a family.  He was entrusting their care in the hands of his successor, and I needed to show him, them, and myself that I was worthy of that trust.

To his clients, I was the "greeny," the rookie.  While I had lofty ideals and huge goals, I was unproven. I knew I was not a shoo-in just because he tapped me as his successor designate..   

The clients are the "customers" with the choice to buy -- or not buy-- my services.  I am but a humble seller of my goods.  

I was also aware that my predecessor was my biggest "customer," who would choose --  or not choose me --  as his successor.  I was selling myself to him with every thought, word and deed. I was the lowly purveyor of my services. 

The ball was in my court.  These were my choices:

  • I could either take it, do my very best and run with it.   

  • Or, I could do less than my best and let it bounce out-of-bounds.  

  • Or, I could give up and throw it to someone else to take it and run.


"By far the most devastating and detrimental behavior... is making excuses or looking for excuses for  poor performances."
~ Tommy Kono

We each have a pesky ego, often insecure, sometimes inflated, and I kept  mine in check.  No small feat.

Keeping  judgment and censure at bay, I attentively  listened, carefully observing how my predecessor regarded and interacted  with his clients. I especially learned from his victories and defeats, including how he had patiently -- and impatiently --   trialed 51 prospective successors before I came along.

We developed a cherished and rare kupuna (elder) - haumana (student) relationship.  And he did not have a drop of Hawaiian blood.  You'd never guess it.  I guess that the power of hanai (adoption, out of love).

I am a teacher at heart, as he was.  Of what use is a dedicated teacher if the student is unwilling? Just as "when the student is ready, the guru appears",  "when the guru is ready, the student appears."   I became his last student. His most willing student.

I especially cherished his pearls of wisdom, gathered over his lifetime of work and living. None of them are found in any book, or taught in any class.  Much of what I was learning was specific to the office.  

I let him know that I welcomed his feedback, positive or negative. "Tell me if I'm doing something wrong, or if I can do something better," I said.   

Through eyes of experience, he obliged. When the feedback was not what my ego wanted to hear,  I bit my tongue and dropped my defenses.  Reacting poorly would put a halt to his astute observations.  I knew that making a single excuse could be fatal, and I would be the biggest loser.  

I remained grateful for  his feedback, not always gently given, either.  He was direct, and I trusted  his intention.  He was keeping me out of the  school of hard knocks. 

If he didn't tell me what I was doing wrong unknowingly or less than optimally, who would?  Or could?      

The only winning relationship is the win-win one , and we proactively worked to make and keep it so.  And yes, we did hit a few bumps, but we worked together to  smooth them out.

Maybe as a teacher, I was not yet ready. My predecessor waited 75 years for me. I will learn patience. Like him, I am an aspirant to love, a sucker for hugs and kisses.  Like him, I am a get-up-and-try-again soul, an experimenter, an eternal optimist.

If these are things that my successor designate does not aspire to, then I will accept this. My predecessor taught me it is possible to be patient.


"When the student is ready, 
the teacher will appear

In hindsight, this was one of the  keys (there are others) to our office's  subsequent (yes, booming) success: I had to put my stubborn individualistic streak on the back burner, in order to merge and become coherent with him, his staff, and his clientele.  

The transition was seamless and seemingly effortlessly, despite vast differences in our differences in age, gender, race, ethnicity, and training.  We moved on from successor designates to successors, and it has been smooth sailing overall, with a few squalls to keep the ride interesting and us, humble.

Some might attribute the office's success to luck.  I attribute a good part of it to our love and respect -- my predecessor's and mine --  for each other and for our clients. 

The key words are: we, us, our.  This "third entity" has a life of its own.  When nurtured, it is that entity that makes marriages succeed.  What works in marriages, also works in business relationships and friendships.

My predecessor and I shared a burning desire to make each other successful, at work and in life. When he retired, we kept our  mentor and mentee relationship.  He remained my teacher, and I, his student.  In time, we became dear and affectionate friends,  despite our two-generational  age difference. 

Until his death 14 years later, we stayed in touch, talking on the phone and going out of our way to have lunch together. By his request, my husband and I were two of only six non-blood-relatives who were invited to his very private funeral for family members only.  

I well up as I write this. He was being considerate to the end, knowing that it was important for me to accept the reality of his death.  As important was the affirmation that it was only his dead body that was being buried.  His soul is elsewhere, flying free. The custom for the family and others gathered at the graveside to shovel dirt onto the coffin is a good ritual that reinforces this truth. This I did, but only after I gently tossed a lei of plumeria that landed at the head of his casket. 

I want what my mentor and I shared: a meaningful, soul-satisfying relationship, one  that now transcends death. 


"For every ‘down,’ there should be an ‘up,’ 
but you can stay ‘down’ if you tax yourself too often."

It was clear to me that we, my successor designate and I, were not on the same page. Without fluid two-way communication, I was groping in the dark  to make sense of his change. 

Maybe he's exhausted, I'd wonder.  Taking on that extra day at the other office, he's working six days a week.  I had looked at it with askance when I learned about it.  Maybe I should have said something then.  

That long commute three times a week -- fighting traffic to and from for at least three hours a day -- takes it toll, working a total of six days a week. He was courting burn-out. Who can do their best work, exhausted and distracted?

Our clients would be the first to be affected.  Their care would suffer. I was now being affected.  Our relationship has suffered.  As his employer, I am a dog. That proverbial dog who feeds him, but I am less important than our clients, who are truly the ones who feed all of us.  

Was the moon full that night?

Was cumulative fatigue -- and a whipped body seeking respite in sunny Hawai`i at all costs -- responsible for his inability to keep his center, stand his professional ground, and resist the temptation to be careless, impatient and overly aggressive?

Comments made in passing now took on significance:

  • A co-worker observed that he was downing caffeinated soft drinks, as Doni once did before his kidneys and bladder rebelled, to pump up his energy level.  

  • Cia speculated that, by picking up a sixth day of work in the week -- he was over-extended.  By the time Thursday and Saturday came along, we were getting "the leftovers" of his energy at the end of the work week 

  • Mid-year,  his wife mentioned that he seemed lethargic after  work  and unmotivated  when it came to physical fitness. While she kept up her own gym activities and swimming, he was turning into a coach potato.  Even getting him to do anything on the weekends as a couple was a challenge, she said.

Was he making the mistake made by his ex-brother-in-law, who sacrificed long-term rewards for short-term gains, thinking he was building a rosy future for him and his wife?   The marriage was short-lived, causing major disruptions, hard feelings, temporary rifts, and great sadness within their family.

Living with a work drudge, who's too tired for anything else, is no fun. His neglected wife, his wife's sister, looked elsewhere for joy and found someone else, who was more nurturing and balanced.

The successful role models in my life have taught me well.  Part of their wisdom was the importance of living in every dimension, participating in many arenas, applying oneself in a variety of endeavors — family, work, play, sports, community, service, and society at large. 

Those who spend almost all of their time grasping for money at the exclusion of activities that balance the spirit court disaster, as this leaves them with little or no time to acknowledge, appreciate, and give back.  

I know and have lived this truth: We are given only as much as we acknowledge, appreciate, and give back with our whole heart and soul.


"All it takes for evil to triumph is 
for good men to do nothing."
~ Edmund Burke

Perhaps a waging inner moral battle was bringing him down?

Both had individually shared with me that their other employers were involved in promoting an unproven,  unperfected procedure .  They were being encouraged -- almost goaded -- jump onto an alluring bandwagon, at the expense of clients not being fully informed of all of the future risks.  

While they would never have the procedure done on themselves, they were expected to promote it, if not actively, then passively by going along with it by saying little or nothing at all.   

One employer  discounted the scientific articles she had brought to him. She thinks he never bothered to read them, preferring to cast a blind eye to anything that was countering his plan to accrue professional favors to get his daughter into his alma mater.


"With complacency comes eventual regression. " 


The procedure is IRreversible. There is a known 5.7% (and rising) failure rate. Failed cases have no satisfactory fixes.  

They were being caught between two stools. Our office chose not to gamble with our clients' assests, but  9 out of 10 offices did.

Specifically, earlier in the year, he told me how his other employer was no longer encouraging the  controversial procedure because "the compensation was not what it once was." Apparently, his employer was fine with it while it paid well, but not when it didn't. When the procedure was no longer  a lucrative cash cow, it was no longer being recommended to the clients.

Seeing the real world as less idealistic than as a student, perhaps this was jading him?  Was he disillusioned? Discouraged?  

Was he demoralized that his other office was not upholding its oath of "Above all else, do no harm?"  Maybe it was cognitive dissonance?  Maybe he's in an existential funk, career-wise?  


"One great mind deserves another."

Since this revelation, was it a coincidence that I was seeing his spirit spiral slowly downward? 

Was he feeling "guilt by association" by working in a office that promoted a procedure he did not believe in?

A Boy Scout who took a weekly oath during his formative years might feel conflicted:  

To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and
morally straight. 

As a former Scout, I continue to abide by the oath and law.  Their values are so deeply ingrained in me that I know I would be ambivalent and in turmoil if I were in their shoes.

Was there a bit of the prisoner's dilemma in play?

Cia mentioned that he was wistful one day, telling her how his peers were already in the money,starting their families, and were ahead of him in their lives.  The carrots being dangled were huge, and tempted everyone in our field. A classmate and a former employee were making seven-digit incomes pushing this procedure.

Thank goodness for my friend Wayne, a great mind and friend, who taught me to resist dangling carrots. "He who dies with the most toys - still dies!" 
We didn't hold evening seminars to sign up my clients, en masse, then take the money and get the hell out out of Dodge before the other shoe dropped.

In a morally challenging situation, their classmate Pauline got out, when she learned the office she worked in was engaged in dishonest activities. I admire her for keeping her integrity, even if it meant losing a job. She was able to procure a situation where she did not have to compromise her integrity.

The Scout oath is do-able. Life is not a popularity contest.  And the one with the most toys does not win, as lawsuits take them all away.


"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, 
while the learned are perfectly prepared for a world 
that no longer exists."

Was  I dealing with a Generation X thing? 
  I know nothing about GenX and I know a little more:  Air family, antisabbaticals, boomer envy, derision preemption, divorce assumption, emotional ketchup burst, historical overdosing,  me-ism, mid-twenties breakdown,  option paralysis,  overboarding, ozmosis, poor buoyancy, rebellion postponement, safety net-ism, squires, successphobia, terminal wanderlust, yuppie wannabes.  Doesn't sound like these apply.

Was it a matter of years?  I was 32 years old and married for ten years, when I was employed by my predecessor, compared to his present 28 years and two years of marriage.  Experience counts.

Was it a matter of family influences?  I was raised by a grandparent,  with abiding filial respect.  His wife has told me that he was "raised" by his peers, adopting more of their values and aspirations than his parents'.  

He didn't, she said, put much store in what his parents had to say. Observing how they were passive with their misbehaving dog and how they spoiled his sister, she worried aloud that they might spoil their future grandchildren.  (That's their "job" as grandparents.  My grandmother was good at it)

Was it a matter of differing world views? 

Shikata ganai.

This was the mantra of mainland Japanese Americans,  who, including his grandparents, were forcibly removed from their homes and, against their will, sent to relocation camps during World War II.  

When faced with  a situation perceived to be unchangeable or uncontrollable, they gave up, saying "shikata ganai" ("there is no way"), which means " it is utterly hopeless and there is no sense in even trying."  Could this world view account for his growing passivity? 

In contrast, my husband and I grew up in Hawai`i, as members of the ethnic majority.  I grew up with a diametrically opposite mantra,  directly passed down by my father who lived it in every aspect of his life:  

 Go for Broke!

"Shoot the Works,"  "Go All Out," or  "Don't Hold BacK" have similar meanings, but not quite. "Go For Broke!" is a uniquely Hawaiian slang phrase from the dice game, craps. "Go For Broke" means to risk everything, give everything you have--all or nothing!"   

I come from a family of self-employed entrepreneurs, for whom working long hours was the norm and perceived as an investment toward a freer, easier life later.  Self-starters.  Captains of their own fate.   Doers.  Activists.  

We don't wait for things to happen.  We make them happen. We are overcomers. Yet, I have no idea of where to begin to overcome a possibly generational, ingrained sense of futility and resignation? 

Bottom line:  We were getting  the distinct impression that his heart, mind and spirit was drifting away from us.  

Perhaps this was no longer his work of choice, but of perceived necessity.  Student loan debts and house payments must be paid.

I began wondering if he had mischosen his profession, yet I'd recalled how I implored him to carefully evaluate why he was choosing our field. If making money was a priority, he shoud, I encouraged, explore other career options. 

He was staunch in his decision, even as I challenged his motivations. Back then, he declared that he wanted to have an office like ours, work in an office like ours, and take care of others as our office did.  He wanted to do what I did.  He wanted to follow my footsteps.

People change.  Priorities change.  Wants and needs change. Was he reinventing himself?

If he was, I would grant him his being-ness.  And gracefully let go.


"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
~ Henry David Thoreau  

Resigned to their lot in life, many are unhappy in their jobs. Was he destined to live a life of regret?  A life of quiet desperation

Was he headed for George Bailey's alternate life in "It's A Wonderful Life"?  Remember when George was ready to commit suicide by jumping off the bridge?

"He's still young,"  I thought. "Maybe he should pursue his true heart's desire. I started over at 28 when I went professional school. He's only 28."

"I knew this story a long time ago. I have a caged bird. I let it go, and should it fly back to me, then it's mine. Otherwise, it means that I never own it. Today, I set you free and discover you really leave me behind. So I see what it means."
~ John Lennon, 1965,
Norwegian Wood

Was he feeling like a caged bird?  If he did, then in my heart, I've already set him free.  


Tonight at dinner, I was with the person I once knew and loved; he was upbeat, positive-thinking, respectful.  

His wife shared how happy working with our clients made her.  He nodded in agreement. 

I shared with them bits and pieces of my passion for my work, felt free to share my "Erin Brockovich" spiel about the controversial procedure, complete with hard facts, statistics, and solid scientific documentation. 

The letdowns of the procedure is this month's cover story in our most widely-read professional journal. Irrefutable evidence of its long-term harmful effects mount. Lawsuits have started, and the nine of 10 professionals who pushed it are prime targets. 

If our futures are to be intertwined, I must know who he really is, what makes him tick, what motivates him,  what he truly cares about. For all whose lives we touch, I would be remiss if I did not. 

For tonight, my worst fears have not been realized.  I saw the person I once knew and loved. I hope he is back for good. 

Perhaps, he is willing to smooth out this rough patch of road with me. Perhaps, we will not just be friends, but will share a future together.

I am regrouping, remaining hopeful. Thanks, Cia, for helping me to keep the agreements and my heart open.

"Life is a Gift."

Author Unknown

P.S.  If you would like to share a portion of yourself  with words, in response to this journal entry,  you may do it here.  

 "The only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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This web journal was created on a September Morn, 
September 29, 2001
September Morn © 2001