Is life a Rube Goldberg Machine?

I’m feeling overwhelmed at the moment. Life is still locked down – this week is the 13th week I think and there’s another four(?) to go. I’m tired and feeling anxious. The anxiety stemmed in part from job hunting. In my quest to live more intentionally and move closer to family, I am looking for a job in Armidale.

Job Hunting

I haven’t had to look for a new job for a long time but a suitable temporary job came up and I applied. It was only a six month placement but it was a foot in the door. I felt confident that it was a good match for my skills. Same job in a different school. The investment of time and emotional energy used in writing the application was draining and the wait was excruciating! Not helped by the said family asking every day if I had the job! The job was shortlisted last week, and given the silence, I assume I am not going to the next stage.

The emotional drain spilled over into a very unproductive cycle of rumination. IF I had been successful it would have triggered a cascade of events, none of which could have been started in advance.

The rumination generated a number of unanswerable questions that would have needed answers in a very short time frame and would be exponentially compounded by a Statewide lockdown! 

The list of unponderables

The list was long and included (but was not limited) to:

  1. Finding suitable and affordable accommodation in Armidale
  2. Finding tenants for my current place
    1. Leading to do I rent it furnished?
    2. Unfurnished?
    3. And what do I do with my stuff!
  3. Actually physically packing up my stuff and
    1. OMG! How did I get so much freaking stuff?
    2. Move all my stuff or some if it – and then
    3. Do I move it or store it?
  4. Handing over for my current job (while we are in lockdown) to my successor
    1. Finding a successor at such short notice
    2. And finding a successor for the successor!
  5. Saying a hasty online goodbye to colleagues – some of whom I have worked with for close to 20 years.

Shit! No wonder I was anxious! No wonder I still feel like I’m recovering. 

Rube and his machines.

Being the sort of person who loves a good analogy this cascade of actions reminded me of a Rube Goldberg machine. You know, those chain reaction contraptions where one rolling marble bumps against another to set off a chain of events.? There is an old Honda ad which if it’s real, and not CGI, is amazing! 

I think life is just one big Rube Goldberg machine where you tinker with the bits and hope you put them in the right place so they all work together in a nice steady series of movements towards a satisfying end. The pieces in life’s Rube Goldberg machines are the time, skills, resources and people you have built your life with and have available to you.

What happens if it doesn’t work?

I explained my analogy to a colleague. He asked what happens if you don’t put the things in the right place? If your bits don’t line up and the motion comes to a halt? I hadn’t actually thought out the analogy that well, and I didn’t know how to answer so I just shrugged.

I guess you just keep experimenting? It’s not as if you can go back to the beginning. You just restart from where you are. Perhaps you would be able to re-purpose or recycle some of the parts and use them again?  You might even change your design altogether.

But you just keep moving forward. 

At least it was spring!