The Gift of Crisis

Once I got the car into a vacant parking lot, I got the jack under it and cranked it up, cursing under my breath the entire time.

“Problem?” Iman said, standing over me.

“Hello?! Were you not paying attention?”

“To what?” he said.

“Never mind,” I grunted. “Just hold off on the life lessons for a minute and let me do this, okay?”

“Okay,” he said, and sat on the hood of the car, his feet dangling in front of the tire I was working on.

“What?” I dropped the tire iron to the ground. “What now?”

“Whatever do you mean?” he asked.

“I know you’ve got something smart to say. Just go ahead and get it out.”

“What would you like me to say?”

“I don’t know. Surely, you’ve got some great insight as to how I’m still imbalanced so I’m still gonna have bad stuff like this happen to me. Or how I’ve just got to roll with the punches and make lemonade and look on the bright side and stuff like that.”

He smiled. “Is my saying it really necessary? You seem to have it well under control.”

I groaned. “Just move your feet so I can get this changed, please.”

Iman jiggled his feet where they dangled. “Better?”

“Cute.” I picked up the tire iron and looked at him. “Why so much struggle, huh? Tell me that.”

“Why does it have to be a struggle?” he asked.

“Exactly.”

“No.” He reiterated, “I’m asking, why does it have to be a struggle?”

“Because it’s a pain in the butt,” I retorted. “There I was just rolling along, and all of a sudden, BAM, here I am doing this.”

“So why does it have to be a struggle?” He asked again.

“Because I don’t want to be doing this!”

“Hmmm. There’s an expression you humans have that describes that. I think it’s something like `Shit happens’. Is that appropriate?”

“That’s your sage advice?”

“But there’s still the question,” he continued, “of why it has to be a struggle.”

“And the answer is?”

He shrugged and pulled his legs up, sitting cross-legged on the hood of the car. “It doesn’t.”

“Oh, you’re a big help.” I went to work on removing the lug nuts.

“You know that the Chinese have the same symbol for `crisis’ and `opportunity’?” he asked.

“Good for the Chinese.”

“A lot of your businesses have gotten the point of that,” he said, “but as a whole you’ve got a long way to go before mastering it.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, look over there,” he pointed a long finger to the Golden Arches.

“At the McDonald’s?”

“Yes. Now what’s that just down the street?”

I looked further. “A Wendy’s.”

“Exactly. Now some might think that it would be a crisis for McDonald’s that a Wendy’s opened up so close to it. But in actuality, the competition just increases demand by giving the consumers more choices. So it’s in fact, an opportunity.”

“So that’s why they’re always opening stores next to each other?”

“Yup.”

“But that happens all the time,” I said. “How are we not getting the point of the whole crisis/opportunity thing?”

“Many of you don’t embrace the competition as an opportunity, just as you don’t see changing this tire as an opportunity.”

“An opportunity for what? I’m just changing a tire.”

“We don’t know yet. You may just have to finish the task before you find out.”

I pulled off the flat tire and put the donut on. “So how don’t businesses see competition as an opportunity?”

“Like you, they only see the struggle,” he said. “Many of them see the competition as something to be annihilated, something to be beaten, not as something with similar goals that can create a symbiotic relationship.”

“Isn’t that the point of competition?” I asked. “Doesn’t someone have to lose in order for someone else to win?”

“Not in an abundant universe,” he said. “You see, many of your business practices are based on the same ideologies as your military practices. You have your officers, your headquarters, your strategies, and your competition must be defeated in order for you to succeed.”

“Yeah. So?”

“So your history has shown that this paradigm only bolsters the idea that you are living in a limited set of practices. But bringing creativity and symbiosis into the market allows for the market to open up into new products, new services, and new opportunities. There doesn’t have to be a winner and loser. Just more winners as the market progresses.”

I finished tightening the lug nuts and lowered the car off the jack. “That still doesn’t explain why I had to go through this.”

“Maybe you’ll figure it out eventually.” He hopped off the hood of the car and took his seat while I put the old tire and jack in the trunk.

Another mile down the road, the bright lights of an ambulance blocked out way, and a policeman guided us around a two car accident. As we drove past, I glanced at the wreckage and saw them put a stretcher into the ambulance. It occurred to me that if I had not been changing the tire, I could have been involved in the accident, and it could have been me that they were wheeling away.

“Wow,” I said, awestruck. “Shit really does happen,” I said.

“And sometimes,” Iman added, “it makes wonderful fertilizer.”

This is an excerpt from How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. Come back weekly for the next part or order your copy in ebook or paperback today!

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