"Don't worry - you're not the first woman to have a baby". That was a line I clearly remember coming from a nurse when we were in hospital having our first baby son. Nothing was really wrong - things were going well (if a little long), and we were just two people who were anxious about embarking on this remarkable new journey in our lives. The nurses were great. They were jaded veterans who had done this many times before.
I mean, I realised that there were probably thousands of women giving birth across the planet during this same time, but for us, it was a time of change and redefining of who we were.
Not all things are as massively life changing as having a baby. But in the small things still lie important forks in our life path.
Earlier this month, I found out that I needed to wear glasses for close up work. Back in my younger days at flying school, I had better than average 20/10 vision, and I prided myself in not having to wear glasses like a lot of my peers. In a way, that fact help to define me as a person, and the knowledge that I now had to resort to glasses was a dent in that perfectly moulded idea of who I was.
When I went in to pick up my glasses, I was strangely nervous. The young lady who fetched my prescription and asked me to try them on was perfectly nice and friendly, but she was also busy and I could see that she just wanted me to like them and be off. It was all part of a routine process for her.
I tried to explain that this was my first pair of glasses ever, and I kept trying to stretch out the interaction a little more than I normally would have. I guess I was just waiting for her to reassure me that it was all OK, and that the glasses looked good and life would go on as normal.
In the end, I walked out and trust in myself that this new fork in my road would lead to good things. But I couldn't help shaking the feeling once again that I was just a cog in a big machine. Just an Input that had to be processed and Output again.
I lead me to think that a lot of skilled professions have basically come down to that - a big processing machine. I know I am guilty of that. Pressure to turn clients/jobs/projects over and keep revenue flowing will lead to the commoditisation of the humanness of the interaction.
I know I am guilty of it. It is easy to become complacent, bored, jaded with doing the same thing day after day. The magic goes out of it for us, and that is reflected in the way we deal with those that we are committed to helping.
Perhaps it is time for us to start giving back a piece of ourselves in every interaction? To treat every transaction like it is the first time - for BOTH myself and the recipient.