Happy Whatever!

‘Tis the season for… something, probably? πŸ™‚

For many people, it’s ‘the ‘Holiday Season’, or Christmas, or New Year, or something like that. A calendrical marker-point, anyway. Something to celebrate, perhaps.

The culture I come from is nominally Christian, hence ‘Christmas’ and suchlike, so that’s the label others around me tend to use. (Though it doesn’t quite have the same sense for me, I’ll admit: in religious terms, my family-background is in the Quaker tradition, which historically regards Christmas as ‘just another day’.)

[These days ‘Christmas’ in this country seems barely Christian anyway: it’s much more about families – which sadly doesn’t have much relevance for me – and, even more, about the real ‘state-religion’, the Church of Conspicuous Consumption, which I try to avoid as much as possible…]

As a perennial Outsider, my real colleagues are scattered around the globe: I have stronger connections with people in the Netherlands, Australia,Guatemala, Brazil or the US, for example, than with just about anyone in this town. Those friends and families and colleagues all follow different faiths, different traditions, different worldviews: even the Christians amongst them will celebrate their Christmas on different dates, from 1st December right through to 6th January (‘Twelfth Night’, also known in England as ‘Old Christmas’). And even a nominally-secular marker such as ‘New Year’ can be almost as problematic: there seem to be dozens of different definitions of ‘New Year’, few of which make much sense to anyone else.

So it’s kinda tricky knowing what to ‘celebrate’, or know which date-marker to use. For purely pragmatic reasons, I tend to focus on astronomical markers such as solstices and equinoxes, because they’re probably the ‘safest’ in social terms. Hence today, being the solstice closest to the most-acknowledged festival in these parts, and also closest to the New-Year point for this culture.

Even so, which solstice? It’s winter-solstice here, but summer-solstice for my friends down south; and solstices don’t mean much anyway to my friends in the tropical-regions, whose ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ and the like align with other real-world markers. Hmm… see what I mean by ‘kinda tricky’?

So what can a not-particularly-social not-particularly-anchored-anywhere soft-of-digital-native do or say these days, in terms of others’ societal celebrations?

I guess the best I can offer is that however, whatever and whenever you choose your celebrations to be, have fun, andΒ Have A Happy Whatever! πŸ™‚

Enjoy! – and thanks again for sharing this journey with me over the passing year.

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3 comments on “Happy Whatever!
  1. Stuart Boardman says:

    Nice post Tom. It also reminded me what a strange (and rather depressing) irony it is that in a world in which communication channels are increasingly location independent, so many participants in these global exchanges seem to assume that everyone lives in the same country and shares the same traditions – particularly when that country is the USA.

    Have a great Whatever.

  2. Myron Chaffee says:

    Tom,

    For the sake of full disclosure, I am an over-the-top, ardent, flaming, rabid Christian (this, most certainly, earns me a resounding ‘whatever’). Yet, like you, I hold no day above another. Anyway, I was thinking, “how would Tom’s thought work within an enterprise view?” Intriguing. So we’re talking about a celebration fomented by belief in respect to some god (defined as, “in whom or to what do you entrust your life?” This could be one’s self.) I’m thinking this god would act as both vendor and client (???). Assuming that this god blesses and the believer enjoys these blessings, then in respect to a season of celebrations, while not knowing an individual’s belief system, perhaps a greeting of “be blessed” or “Happy Bath of Blessings” or some other uplifting phrase. I’m thinking that this would then create an enterprise, of sorts, with the person being greeted. With the ‘whatever’ greeting, could this plant seeds for some kind of an anti-client situation? I’m still playing/toying with this (obviously). Since belief is involved, there is also an epistemological aspect to this. This is so simple on the surface, but it has this multi-dimensional ripple affect. There seems also to be a notion of dynamic enterprises (?)…

    My meanderings could use injections of clarity (reality?), if you would be so kind?

  3. Tom G says:

    @Myron Chaffee – Hmm… good points all (and definitely not earning “a resounding ‘whatever'”! πŸ™‚ )

    Lots of interesting ways to take this. For example, in Christian terms, God (or relationship with God, rather) is indeed an enterprise, as in “a risky venture”, an emotive commitment, etc. Although ‘rules, roles and responsibilities’ do apply, it’s not an organisation. So all of what we’ve been talking about in enterprise-architecture would apply.

    And all of the stuff I’ve been doing on SCAN sensemaking and decision-making would also apply: the distinction between belief (certainty) and faith (the ‘challenges of faith’ in facing uncertainty), and the huge difference between the thinking and reflection that happens away from the point of action – the abstract, intellectualised forms of ‘faith’ – versus the forms of belief and faith that guide during action itself. There’s also a very strong crosslink to morals – predefined beliefs or certainties – versus ethics – the deep-faith required when too-simplistic morals are not enough. (For example, it’s wrong to hit someone [morals/belief], but we may have to do just that in order to save their life [ethics/faith] in a medical emergency.)

    The ‘whatever’ above wasn’t really meant as a greeting – and certainly not as a putdown of anyone else! It was more just an acknowledgement that once we take a literally global perspective, there are so many different faiths and festivals that it’s kinda wrong (or impolite, anyway) to pick just one as being ‘the festival’, ‘the holidays’. Hence an attempt at an inclusive ‘Whatever you choose this to be’, rather than a dismissive ‘Whatever…’.

    The ‘Whatever’ bit does also connect, though, with Christian (I think?) notions about ‘walk a mile in the others’ shoes’ – which is essentially what we need to do in anti-client contexts. By walking with them (metaphorically or literally), we find places where we share the same overall enterprise (in this context, what you might call ‘the enterprise of God’) – “this would then create an enterprise, of sorts, with the person being greeted”. Celebration seems to be a generally human thing, so would likely give good opportunities to ‘walk beside’ the other, whatever the faith or festival might be.

    “This is so simple on the surface, but it has this multi-dimensional ripple affect.” – yep. πŸ™‚ Layered recursion gets to be real interesting, doesn’t it?

    “My meanderings could use injections of clarity (reality?), if you would be so kind?” – you’re asking me for clarity??? – oh foolish youth that thou art… πŸ™‚ (Sadly, Clarity is not my middle-name… as you may have noticed… πŸ™ πŸ™‚ – oh well!)

    Thanks, anyway – and yes, let’s keep exploring this? πŸ™‚

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