time folds

Mid-last month, while in a meeting with colleagues, I heard a distinctive voice I recognised.

A new colleague ‘Jarad’ was heading up the project. I remember thinking, ‘I’m glad he’s on staff to manage this.’  It is a project that has seen several changes of staff so far.

Unfortunately, as he stood up and walked to the whiteboard to map out the flowchart, I heard that familiar voice say

take notes. He’s not going to be here for much longer.’

I have a fairly robust interaction with this particular Entity, and my mind was instantly reactive (if not a little combative).

What the fuck?!! What do you mean by that? Where is he going?

Jarad’s enthusiasm about the project was obvious and I quickly became angry. If he wasn’t going to see the project through, I immediately thought he was deceiving us about his commitment to the role.

Are you saying he’s lying to us? Why would he do that? 

For the remainder of the meeting I struggled to take notes, while firing off my questions to the Entity, listening to the answers and also scanning a couple of my colleagues I was sure also heard that initial voice. (I look back on this moment with amusement. Typical in these moments. Argue. Debate. Who else heard?)

By the end of the meeting I was convinced Jarad honestly didn’t know he would be unable to see out the project.

Sometime over the next 24 hours, he heard from relatives overseas and was booked to fly home for family reasons. Within the next 48 hours, he’d put in for a few weeks off work.

A short time later, a colleague who’d been at the meeting asked me what I thought about the project and specifically about his role in the project. I thought it was a really odd question to ask.

She asked me three times in about five minutes.

After deflecting her twice, on the third time I told her what I’d heard and what I knew to be true – he was not returning from overseas anytime soon. She sighed. Deeply. In that moment, I could tell part of her already suspected.

I said, ‘there’s nothing you can do based on what I’ve just told you. You’ll need to wait until you hear from him directly, before you can take any action or make any decision.’

A look of frustration and discomfort crossed her face as she nodded.

For the first time I understood the discomfort someone else might feel to have the experience of knowing or understanding things before they happen. That ‘in-between time’ of suspending action until other events, people or decisions manifest.

While I’m familiar with this ‘mean-time’, what I call that time-lag or folding-in of time, the look on her face gave me an unfamiliar insight.

We didn’t wait long. Just over two weeks later he’d resigned.

These moments of forth-telling and fore-telling always leave me conflicted. I’ve lost count of the times where the outcome or impact of a decision or an action has emerged early.

While the ‘knowing’ is an amazing privilege, to speak up about it ahead of time has always sat awkwardly with conventional life.

21 November 2017