Saturday 27 May 2017

A Structural Engineer's Waking Dream: Concluding Post

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This week we’ve been following the experiences of a structural engineer-in-training who had an unpleasant encounter with a client. Understanding the experience as a waking dream, the engineer realized that what he witnessed and participated in was only a mirror of his own internal conflict. He knew that, if he wanted to resolve the issue, he shouldn’t get angry at those who were giving him a hard time. Rather, he should look within himself to resolve his issue.

What follows is the conclusion of his narrative.

A structural engineer explains his internal conflict
It was time to look at my own experience as a dream. I always find this process a bit dicey. I don’t think anyone likes to examine themselves closely. But I’ve learned that it really is helpful in the long run, so it’s worthwhile going through the temporary aggravation.

Briefly, here was my dream: I’m not certified yet, so I’m still a student, but an advanced one. I draw some plans for a client and he starts questioning my competence. From the perspective of the dream, that skeptical client is me. So this client (who is me) decides to consult a friend of his who is supposed to know a lot, but actually, doesn’t know much at all, and in fact, lives an untidy life in a really unsavory neighborhood with street names like “Division” and “Dead end.” This untidy friend (who is me) decides my plans are unusable and starts scribbling all over them, making changes that have no relationship to good engineering. Finally, my client agrees to let me take the now-altered plans so that I can clean them up, supposedly with his friend’s changes. Instead, I take them to one of my professors (who is also me), and the professor confirms my original design and goes so far as to tell me that my client’s friend is “nuts.”

There, very neatly presented for me in metaphor, is the conflict that I am experiencing within myself: Part of me is trying to do good work. Part of me is challenging my competence—there’s the “Division.” And part of me—the teacher part—is telling me that I am, in fact, working correctly, and that I should totally ignore the part that is skeptical.

That is exactly the dialogue that is going on within myself right now. I’m about ready to graduate, and I have to set up my own business. Frankly, I’m scared, and I’m questioning what right I have, with my minimal experience, to call myself a competent engineer. The dream is telling me to calm down and stay the course. The teacher in me is telling me to ignore my own doubts and be reassured.

I can’t tell you how helpful that is! It’s like the whole universe is talking to me, counseling me to relax, that everything will be OK. I’m not married; I live by myself. But I also know that I am never alone. I have constant, infallible advice and help. What a blessing! I love the dream!


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