“Aaron; I hear you. Life as a new single dad with two teenage girls, during covid along with your nuts job – of course you’re going to be anxious. Is it overwhelming you?”
Aaron, held his coffee cup with a fidgety death grip as his normal friendly expression faded into a face of hopelessness and angst. “Bill, we known each other for a long time and you know I’m not very good at sharing stuff like this.”
“Huge understatement my friend. Worry not, it’s all just part of your unique charm and I’m ready to advise or commiserate as I can or you desire. Talk to me.” Bill then added with a big sarcastic grin. “I promise not to go public on social media with anything you tell me until tomorrow morning .”
Aaron smiled because sarcastic banter was his most comfortable way of dealing with life. His wife of 18 years had died in a car accident only six months ago, leaving him and their girls, Rachel (13) and Verna (16) unexpectedly as a heart-broken family. Her absence each morning was still painful and tears, very uncomfortable for Aaron, remained frequent.
“I worry mostly for the girls. They loved Sarah so much. She was the one who could talk and reason with them. I’ve always been better with non-verbal ways of loving them.
“I think I can see ways of doing things to help them and they’re cooperating, but I’m not sleeping well or focusing on things. Bill, I know that I’m lost in this all. I pretty much burned through my vacation time to be with Sarah while she was hospitalized so I can’t take time off work. So, I’m stuck there with leading the new transmission design for our largest earth-mover. Management is insisting on some specs that exceed what our current tech makes possible. I may need to back up and re-do several sub-assemblies to reach those specs and I’m not sure it can be done. I know I can solve problems like this, but I’m consumed with worries at home. The girls are stressing over their friends and not getting to enjoy a normal time at school. They’re worried about wearing masks for the rest of high school and not being able to do normal things like dances and hanging out. Their studies are broken up into sterile Zoom sessions which leaves them feeling even further away from each other.
“I don’t know how to begin to lay down a plan to solve things.”
Bob reached across the table and grabbed Aaron’s shoulder. “I may be able to get you started. I have an idea for image that may appeal to your nerdy engineer mind.”
“I’d like to hear it, because my girls are getting frustrated with my efforts to bring some stability back to our home. We’re all tired of being miserable.”
“Okay, I offer you the image of a gyroscope.”
“A gyroscope? How does that relate?”
“You certainly know how toy gyroscopes appear to defy gravity once their spinning.”
“Yes, but that’s only an illusion created by not understanding how . . . “
“Exactly, it is only an illusion because the gyroscope is certainly minding all laws of physics but it is unique in that it carries one law within it — inertia.”
“I don’t understand where you’re going with this.”
“I’ll explain. You know that any object in motion has inertia. Inertia causes the object to resist any change in speed or direction.”
“So a moving object is less impacted by external factors than a stationary one. It’s easier to push a coffee cup across the table if it’s not already moving some other direction . But a coffee cup has no moving parts where a gyroscope does. They have a built-in fly-wheel or rotor. Until that flywheel is set spinning, the gyroscope will act like any other object. But spin that flywheel and the gyroscope appears to ignore external forces, like gravity or us trying to move it. Aaron, the image I offer you is that the gyroscope which is much more stable against outside forces because it has its own internal inertia, like a flywheel.”
Aaron looked at Bill and rubbed his chin. “So, you’re suggesting that I’m like a stationary gyroscope being knocked around by the things the world is throwing at me and all I need to do is to set something within me into motion?”
“Right. And you just proved my point about you being a nerd.”
“Help me think this through. What would be my flywheel?”
“We can’t bring Sarah back, nor can we resolve covid or your management’s insistence on the specs for that transmission. Those are all external forces. But you can, within yourself establish some practices or projects that you control. Just being in motion somehow within yourself or with your girls, will insulate you from some of the stuff outside yourselves.”
Aaron’s eyes lit up. “Well damn Bill. That does make sense. I can think of all kinds of things the girls and I might get involved in to be ‘in motion’ as you. We wouldn’t be sitting around being miserable. It’s a great point.
“I doubt my young artist and dancer girl would appreciate the whole gyroscope analogy though. How about this; It’s always going to be easier to dance around a crisis rather than trying to stand still through it”? I could sell them on that.”
“As a non-artist myself, I’d recommend you keep your day job for now, but coping with a crisis by dancing around it does have some charm. I’d say go for it.”