I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
The other day I commented on the bittersweet irony of the fact that recognition of my birthday came largely through digital reminders from various and sundry on-line services. I went pretty much the entire day without even so much as a handshake in recognition of the day.
It would seem that I need to be more patient.
It bears mentioning that on one or two occasions during the day, I did consider that maybe the failure of my colleagues (one of whom is actually one of my closest friends) to proffer so much as a passing felicitation might be due to a surprise huzzah later in the day did cross my mind. But since I’m rather hard to catch off guard the idea that anyone who knows me would attempt a surprise greeting doesn’t really compute.
So I’d pretty much resigned myself to the smattering of emails, and the trickle of voice mails from back home.
Then the trickle gathered some speed.
By evening’s end I found myself at a late night reception for the Guidewire Group conference Innovate!Europe (the reason that I’m in Spain in the first place). While sidled up to my friend David Sifry, he said: “So is it true that today’s your birthday?”
No sooner had a responded with a nod, than David raised his voice and called the room to attention, and then led them through a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. The warmth in the room (along with the myriad well-wishes) quickly dissolved the digital distaste from earlier in the day.
And it turned out that upon going to sleep perhaps I should have turned off the ringer in my cell phone; because no sooner had I laid my head to sleep than the phone began to ring with well-wishes from friends back in the States who were unaware of my global travel this week.
Fast forward to the next evening when I sat among about 100 or so of the attendees from the conference at the gala dinner for Innovate!Europe, and just as the last plates of dinner were removed and dessert began to arrive, I felt one of the servers standing behind me. Looking up, I saw a delectable Zaragozan pastry topped with a candle held aloft behind me … I have to say you haven’t really experienced a birthday song until you’ve heard it warbled by a chorus of voices laced with accents from at least a half-dozen countries.
The lesson in all this?
Pretty simple really.
Beyond the fact that one should not be quick to leap to conclusions, I think it’s important to realize that in this day and age when we move so quickly (especially in the US), and we expect instant gratification from so many things that we need to be mindful that the carbon-based computer that is human needs a bit more processing time.
Giving people the space to step forward is as important as making sure that one stays personally engaged and present.