Wait For The Answer

“Why would you do such a thing?” That is a question that is too frequently followed by quick advice. The advice may come from good intentions, and the answer makes sense to the person who asked the question. But does it make sense to the person who was asked? Wait for the answer, first. There might be a lesson in there, somewhere.

I live in a 1964 house. It is sweet. It is only 868 square feet. It is the only place I’ve really called home since growing up. It has a view of the Olympic Mountains. On misty days the views may stop at the Kitsap Peninsula, or Puget Sound. On rainy days the views may barely reach across Cultus Bay. On foggy enough days the views may only reach to the end of my driveway. Even the minimalist days have views better than any other house I’ve owned.


It is a 1964 house. It could suck up tens of thousands of dollars in style upgrades. Some of the appliances are that old. Same with the windows. There’s more. There are also mysteries. Was it originally heated by a woodstove and nothing else? Maybe that’s why the floor changes between the kitchen and living room. Was the carport and utility room added on? They’re three steps down and can’t be accessed without going outside. Why is there a pipe for a downspout in the ground along the middle of the back wall? Was it really that short of a house originally, or did they abandon some grander plan?

I can ask, but I can’t expect answers. It is easier to shrug and assume they had an idea that was good, or maybe even necessary, at the time.

I run across the same question with my books and photos. Why no page numbers in some of them? Why was that photo cropped the way it was? Of course, it is easy to insert page numbers – for some. It is obvious that cropping this part out or in would be easy to do. How could I not do that?

I no longer jump to an answer, when asked, usually. Pause. They may only be catching their breath before delivering advice. After they deliver it I frequently find that the question had implicit assumptions baked in from the questioner’s viewpoint. Frequently their advice is correct – for that set of assumptions. I might have a different set. Each of us can have our own assumptions.

MicroVision (see? I managed to allude to MVIS) announced earnings. I was glad and honored to be asked by a few folks for my opinion about the company. Another quarter without substantial earnings (or not at all.) How could they do such a thing over decades since they incorporated? Surely, something must be imminent, or it is a scam, or they’ve just had bad luck, or, or, or… I don’t know. I do know that corporate management can be limited by NDAs, contracts, competitive sensitivities, or security clearances. Or, management may not want to reveal some fundamental flow which has undermined every attempt at successful and profitable implementation.

Infrequently I hear the practical possibility that the company has been successful when viewed from the perspective of employees and managers who have received salaries, managed to buy houses, send kids to college, and basically lived lives for years. There is a value that may never financially benefit the shareholders (aka owners), but it is a value on a humanitarian level. Whether that was done consciously, ethically, or correctly is something others can debate.

How could they have abandoned interactive eyewear years ago? How could they not sell portable projectors profitably? How could they not make money with Microsoft as a partner and customer? How can they be taking so long with LiDAR sensors for vehicles and homes? How? How? How?

I don’t know. The sad point is that getting useful, reliable answers out of any corporation is difficult. Sometimes the only way is to wait for success, at which point more truth may come out. 

Getting answers out of individuals is easier, but it can take a while to wait for the answer.

I wonder why the painter painted it that way? I bet… – Maybe they ran out of blue.
I wonder why the sculptor didn’t include this? I bet… – Maybe because a sculpture has to balance.
I wonder why, I wonder why, I wonder why.

I help produce a podcast about writing on Whidbey Island. It has the oh-so-fancy name of WritingOnWhidbeyIsland.com. Innovative, eh? It is a good forum for me to practice waiting and listening. The answers are frequently things like kids, pets, jobs, relationships, not the proper use of semi-colons or page margins. Rather than some Style Guide, time and money are equally likely to drive an artist to a solution.

Page numbers? Page numbers are preferred, but errors in page numbers can be even worse, and errors happen. (Don’t ask. It was a mess. Fixing it cost too much in time and stress.)

Cropped photos? I’ll frame a photo to purposely hide a defect in my camera’s lens. I may not get rid of it, but I can try to hide it.

Time? For a variety of reasons, every book I’ve written has had time pressures, a reason to sacrifice style guidelines for deadlines.

Money? Lots of things can be improved with professional help, but professionals rightly expect to get paid. Nothing to pay with? Hope to use the professionals next time.

How could people I know think a certain way? I don’t know. But I hope I am not going to ask unless I have the time and patience to listen to the answer.

I’m still curious about why the fence was built without nailing in the rest of the nails.

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: https://trimbathcreative.net/about/ and at my amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0035XVXAA
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