Life is Lumpy

Problems in lifeWhen you think of lumps, you might envision cottage cheese, gravy, curdled milk, an old mattress, or something more serious like cancer. Lumps are everywhere. We commonly call lumps of condensed moisture…clouds, lumps of vegetation…forests, lumps of matter…molecules, lumps of biological cells…plants and animals, and lumps of humanity…society. There is another kind of lump, however. One you can’t see. This other kind of lump is made of energy. It’s invisible to the naked eye. You can only experience it with your feelings. Every living thing on the planet periodically encounters lumps of energy that force a change, an adaptation, an evolution.

I’ve learned that every day you experience invisible lumps of energy. You feel good when someone smiles at you and feel bad when you can’t find a good parking place. You encounter joy by winning the office baseball pool or anxiety by getting a speeding ticket. On rare occasions, lumps can profoundly change you like having a baby or losing a spouse. Some lumps extend beyond yourself and have consequences for those around you like war, economic turmoil, and global climate change. Lumps can be good and sometimes the same lumps can be bad. Finding your soul mate may be good if you are single or bad if you happen to be married to someone else. Getting a promotion is good for your self esteem and bad because you will spend more time at the office. Some lumps of energy are short lived like the temporary un-comfort associated with getting your teeth cleaned. Other lumps can be long lasting like a fear of going to the dentist. You can anticipate some lumps, like knowing that semester finals are two weeks away or that you are getting on an airplane in the morning. Others lumps spring up out of nowhere like stubbing your toe or forgetting where you put your car keys. Lumps have purpose. Lumps have gravity. Lumps are impossible to avoid.

Here’s my scientific explanation of how lumps of energy are formed. Lumps are createdInterference in life when interference occurs between individual components operating within a common medium or system. This medium can take the form of a social network like a friend group, a production matrix like an office environment, an economic construct like the stock market, a food chain, a weather cycle, a religious belief system, the ocean, the atmosphere, or patterns of personal habits. At some point in time, the medium is balanced with all components operating together in perfect harmony. When a new object is introduced or removed in the medium or when an existing component changes somehow, a portion of the medium is displaced and the overall balance disrupted. When this happens, the entire system and all it’s components are forced to adjust.

As the system begins to re-adjust, waves of energy equal to the magnitude of the displacement radiate throughout the medium, forcing adjacent objects to wobble and rebalance as the energy is absorbed. The surrounding objects move toward a new equilibrium forcing the medium to re-adjust further. The movement sends additional displacement energy throughout the system. Soon, the entire medium is charged with energy and all objects are in motion. The elasticity of the medium dictates how long the energy will last. A soft medium with low tension will absorb the energy quickly while a tight medium will continue to vibrate for a long period of time. Lumps are created as the waves of energy interfere with each other creating pockets of increased energy density. Even though you can’t see the lump, you can feel the increased pressure when you encounter it.

For example, imagine that your company has been struggling with the Great Recession and decides to cut expenses by letting people go. Your department looses three people. and the entire office is abuzz with trepidation and anticipation. The once balanced work flow is upset as the void forces the remaining employees to adjust. Initially, there is some uncertainty about who will do what and the entire department wobbles. Some of the tasks are easily absorbed while other duties require additional effort. If your co-workers are adaptable, the energy quickly dissipates as the tasks are adequately managed. On the other hand, if a single co-worker is resistant to change, their attitude interferes with the adoption of a new paradigm and energy will continue to vibrate through the department. It’s easy to feel the tension in the room.

Interference in any system creates problems like a cell phone connection that breaks up, an engine that vibrates, and people who argue. All objects including all people have unique natural frequency of vibration. Every event encountered applies a force to surrounding objects causing them to vibrate. When the force matches the natural vibration frequency, the object experiences a drastic increase in energy called resonance. Like the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940 people who experience an event that resonates with them can build emotional energy to the point of failure. Learning how to identify and diffuse the energy before a crisis occurs is critical to maintaining balance.

go with the flowIn your life you continually encounter lumps of energy; big lumps – little lumps, good lumps – bad lumps, short term lumps – enduring lumps. The buoyancy you maintain  during your readjustment dictates the quality of your life journey. I’ve watched as rigid behavior patterns eventually fracture under the strain of change. However, like a Kung Fu master redirecting the energy of an opponent’s attack, you can learn to stay calm and rational in the midst of a maelstrom, adapt to the situation and embrace the change.

Lumps occur naturally. Lumps happen to you, me, and everyone else on the planet. Life is lumpy. Get used to it.


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One Response to Life is Lumpy

  1. Jim says:

    I would add in conjunction to this analysis, that it seems as though our subjective perspective of how we analyze the category (aka “common medium”) in definition will adjust the way we can see the resulting balancing of that category. Change your view of the category, and you can see different resulting factors… even though the time/space situation is the same.

    Quite interesting, and I like this analysis quite a bit. It seems too simple almost, so obvious that we don’t even recognize it until someone puts it in writing like this.

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