Tuesday, August 19, 2008


People often speak of trust as if it is a present to be bestowed on someone. Like a title worn by those honorable enough to earn it. But trust is not as simple as a token or a crown, it is not absolute. One indicator of trust’s sneakiness lies in any attempt to define it. If you tell someone to define chair, or to produce an image of a chair in their mind, the details may differ but the structure will remain consistent: that which can seat someone. With Trust, it can take many forms. To some it is believing that person is honest with them, another thinking that said person will act for their best interest, or perhaps, it is simply that there is a mutual understanding between two people. Trying to define Trust is like trying to define when something is wet. You may be able to picture a dry sponge, and a soaking wet sponge, but where in the middle of those extremes does something become wet. Likewise, people think that they KNOW when someone has their complete trust or when they feel someone is completely unworthy of trusting, but all those people in the middle… well that is a bit tricky.

Most absolute statements prove to be falsehoods upon further inspection, and Trust has been one of those areas in which people feel drawn to the absolute. Women especially are fond of asking, “Do you trust me?,” and for that matter, you can substitute the words care, love, want, need in place of trust and the statement applies. Before I get to the bottom of my belief on the issue of trust, take the time to think about a few things. First, define trust (your own definition, not Webster’s). Do you completely trust yourself? If yes, can you truly ever completely trust another person? If no, how are you at a point to declare who you completely trust? If you did this exercise correctly and honestly, you recognize the pitfalls of declaring complete trust. I will tell you the nature of trust.

Trust is conditional and completely temporal. First, let’s deal with the first descriptor. Take my best friends, my sister and Jon and Ron, I trust those people more than anyone else (excluding mom). But to me saying that statement is pretty useless. Trust them how? To do what? Trust must be conditioned. My sister, I trust that she will always love me. I do not trust that she could handle my credit card in a shopping mall. Jon, I trust to give me rational and honest feedback, but I would not trust him to give me good advice on women (we both suck in that respect). Ron I trust simply because he is consistent and I know what to expect. Using those examples, it does not take long to realize something. We trust everyone to some extent. We trust some people to do the selfish thing. We trust that some people will always pick a good blind date for us. We trust that X person will always help you out.

This gets us back to the trust exercise mentioned above. Trust is a function of understanding. The more you understand something or someone the greater your trust is. Because you know how and why that person or thing will behave in reference to you. When someone ‘breaks your trust’, they do so by acting outside of the pattern that you had set for them. So asking ‘do you trust me?’ is basically asking ‘do you understand me?’. The answer to both is always, to some extent.

Postscript: I have learned that there is a romantic and a realistic way to look at the world. Neither seems to have an overall benefit to the other. But since I fall squarely in the realist camp, I tell it how I see it. Trust to me is not a matter of faith as a romantic might argue, but of projection. Maybe the two views intersect in a Venn diagram type way, and there is some healthy undiscovered middle ground.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Two Week Outlook on Life

Family, friends in Houston, friends outside of Houston, soccer teammates, and coworkers all get the same response to my ability to be somewhere in the future: I only have a two week outlook on my life. This has played havoc with event planning, friends coming to visit, court dates, and bill collecting, but overall I have found it rather exciting. But things have been going a little crazy lately.

As most of you know, I have been traveling to Lagos, Nigeria lately. The idea was to eventually move to Lagos for about a year, half the time spent in Lagos and the other half on and off of an oil platform. It would pay very large sums of money and it would look good at work, because no one else is willing to go to Nigeria. Well I have been making strides towards getting a work visa here in Nigeria, and I finally got the approval I needed and informed my boss (in Houston) of this fact. Now instead of a congrats (getting the work visa can often be a difficult process) he tells me that ‘management’ wants me to go elsewhere. Now they want me to move to either Tokyo or Brisbane, Australia… and just recently added Dubai, U.A.E. This not too long after they asked me to go to Doha, Qatar, only to tell me that opportunity was no longer applicable. There are many reasons why my current situation is so variable, but I need some stability in my life.

I will probably end up going to one of these places, with a preference for Tokyo or Dubai, but really I just want a home for more than one month at a time.