Essays on Technology and Culture

Sudden Deceleration Trauma

“Nobody ever got hurt falling,” my Dad likes to say. “It's the sudden stop at the end that gets you.”

I recently parted ways with the startup I've been working at for the past year, and not on good terms either. I'll take the blame for a fair share of this, tempering it with the fact that I'd been running into conflicts with a co-worker on the company's direction and focus, and that I'd lost the sense that I was helping to make an awesome tool that helped people do their job better. Now, I've been let go. I'm falling, slowly now, but acceleration is an exponential curve.

This has happened before. Two and a half years, and a lifetime ago, I was unceremoniously fired from a job I didn't like, doing work I didn't like. I fell for a year, working part time, struggling to find work, or build work for myself. I never hit the ground. I was saved by taking a civil service test, and landed a menial job as a welfare clerk. The rest of the story you may know, and that worked out okay.

Until now.

“Up, down, turn around, please don't let me hit the ground.” — New Order – “Temptation”

No matter how many times I fall, I worry about that sudden deceleration trauma at the end. It hasn't happened to me yet. There's always been a safety net somewhere, often multiple ones, in case I'm falling too fast. The problem is that I close my eyes. I'm always so concerned about falling, and that sudden stop at the end that I often forget those nets exist. I also forget that, as I grow older, and as more people become part of my life, those nets have increased.

One day, hopefully a long time from now, those nets will shrink in number. I'll need to be prepared for that day, but until then there's almost always going to be some net to catch me, be it family or friends. That doesn't mean I shouldn't try to keep myself from falling, or to find a safe place to land without those nets. It just means that the nets are there, should things get bad enough. There's too many people who won't let me hit the ground, and they know I'd do the same for them.

Until I land, there's just some uncertainty. I don't need to embrace that uncertainty, but I do have to accept that it's there. Uncertainty is the wind blowing past my head, and echoing in my ears. Try as one might to attach significance to it, it is just wind. Everyone hears it when they fall, and everyone falls at one point or another.

Just open your eyes and aim for the nets.