Sarah, my Social Media Guru and All Things Technological Wizard, has given me homework. I wanted to protest but I knew it would be useless. If I want her help (and I dododo) on this trek towards Self Publishing then she wants to see all my research into Self Publishing arranged in a clear, technical, manageable layout. “Just the facts, ma’am,” as Joe Friday would say. There, in an easy-to-read format, we will be able to see the who, what, when, where and, most importantly (at least to me), how much of turning Annie’s Odyssey from manuscript pages to properly covered book. It makes perfect sense to my Capricornian sensibility. Isn’t this the best way to make a decision about anything? You need to have everything right out there in front of you so you can compare and contrast and then make an informed and intelligent decision. It sounds good to me — but not to that whiney-lazy girl who lives in the sub-basement of my consciousness. She just wants the book-to-be-a book without a whole lot of effort on her part — but, even she knows that that isn’t going to happen.
So I understand the principle and the logic of the exercise but it was when Sarah used the word “matrix” that I started to fade from the scene. “We don’t say spreadsheets any longer,” she informed me, “we create matrices.” Maybe she does, and the folks that she knows do, but I wanted to point out to her that this exercise may well be beyond my limited technological skills. In order to do this properly — and why bother if you don’t — I’d need her help. But — and here’s the rub — I can’t have her help until mid-March when the Mighty Matrix should be done so we can move on to the next phase in order to meet my self-proclaimed May deadline. I hate getting caught in Catch-22s of my own making. Wouldn’t I feel satisfied, even proud, if I conquered my fear of matrices? Wouldn’t I feel like the cat’s meow if I learned how to use that app on my computer with those colorful little columns? Just think how satisfied I’d be if I really could start managing my life in nice, neat columns! And, as a bonus, I would be embarking on a journey that all those Zoomer magazines are proclaiming will make the difference in my aging process.
I do believe it’s true. Otherwise I wouldn’t be preaching it every time I give a workshop. I can get all worked up about the possibilities, the excitement of learning, the life-changing opportunities that new skills and knowledge can uncover. I get carried away with myself sometimes and it’s not always appreciated. One woman hmphed at me. “I don’t want to go back to school! I don’t want life-long learning!” I countered her negativity with a new verse of my song-and-dance routine about change being the natural state of life and that learning new things was exhilarating and rewarding. I assured her that she would feel so good afterwards and — since this was an employment workshop — she would be prepared to venture into uncharted territory in the job market. She was buying none of it. In her own version of The Whiney-Lazy Person, she informed me that what she wanted was a job that looked just like the one she’d been doing for 20 years. It was implied, though never said, that if I couldn’t produce that I was not a very hotshot employment counselor. I felt my pep talk fizzle right in front of me. And anyway, who am I to preach to others if I’m not willing to take on the challenge of learning Excel?
The danger — and I know this from past plunges into learning — is that I’ll become overwhelmed by how much I don’t know and then talk myself into giving up. Not in a hung-head, shame-on-me kind of way, but as a rational decision. Why should I learn this? I’ve gotten by 67 years without knowing it. But just writing that sounds a whole lot like that woman in my workshop. And it is the exact kind of thinking that makes us old folks not very interesting to hang out with and definitely unmarketable in the workplace or anywhere else for that matter.
No, I’m going to do this — just as I’m going to stay in that Spanish class I started on Tuesday. I’m saying it out loud right here. I’m not going to quit — even if I start to feel tongue-tied and far behind all those 30 somethings in the class, I’m not giving up. I will speak better Spanish, and I will create a matrix. It might not be on the computer — no I’m not giving up already. I’ll give that a chance first, but if start getting too frustrated by the technology, I may just start cutting and pasting a matrix in the old way.