I felt really pretty tonight! Which does not often happen, so I am especially grateful. And a little disappointed that we didn’t take any photos, but that is just vanity.
I also feel markedly less stupid. I’d bashed my brain against this puzzle for a long time and couldn’t get the answer: You have 12 coins, one of which is counterfeit and weighs more or less than the others–you don’t know which. You have a balance, which you can use three times. Determine which coin is counterfeit, and whether it is heavier or lighter than the real ones. I sketched diagrams, played with different possibilities, came up with some rules of thumb, and just could not get it. I thought maybe this meant I was too dumb to ever get a programming job.
But tonight, I heard that three of the smartest people I know (all employed in software, one with an ungodly knack for logic puzzles) just took ninety minutes to solve the problem together. And after they finally got it, the consensus was, “If you are a programmer and take that long trying to solve a problem like that, you’re wasting your time.”
So maybe my job prospects are not hopeless.
This afternoon, I went to my favorite independent coffee shop and sat in a comfy leather chair reading Effective C++, while the regulars wandered in and exclaimed over the new photos on the wall. A guy sat down across from me, opened a book and read a few pages, then took a cell phone call from his mom and blithely blathered for 20 minutes about his work schedule. I gave him the look of, “Seriously?”, and eventually got up to look for another chair. Finding none, I sat back down, and he finished his conversation. He paused for awhile, then came over and sat by me.
“Hi,” he said. “You look like you could use a little break, and I’d be happy to provide you with one.
“I don’t know what that means,” I said.
“You seem like you’re drowning in details, and ever since I sat down, I’ve had that feeling that I should come over and help you out. Do you know anything about East Asian philosophy?”
“Sure, some,” I said.
And he told me all about reiki and the energy in all things, and said that in a reiki session, an attuned practitioner can provide healing for others by laying hands on or near their bodies. “And I’ve just been wanting to offer one to you ever since I came in. Would you like a reiki session?”
“Um,” I said. “How long does it take?”
“Well, a quick session could be maybe ten minutes,” he said.
“Honestly,” I finally hedged, “I don’t think I’m in a place where I could appreciate that right now. But thank you for the offer, and the conversation.”
And in the end, the human contact in that conversation was just what I needed: I remembered how to smile and be friendly to people, and avoided the temptation to tell him to keep his hippie hands to himself. My whole face relaxed, and my frustration at his phone conversation completely dissipated.
People are just people, and it really is ok to just let go and be with them. I should remind myself of this more often, especially when my brain is crunched up and grumpy.