Is anyone in their right mind?

April 27, 2010 at midnight
Updated April 27, 2010 at 11:28 p.m.

By Lane Johnson

I was sitting in my backyard the other evening enjoying a peaceful moment. My cell phone alerted me to a text message from my daughter who was attending a business conference in Florham Park, N.J.

She was in the hotel lounge enjoying a cold beer at the end of a long day.

We both unwound together.

She mentioned the hotel had a nice jogging trail she thought about visiting, but was strategically talking herself out of it. I told her I wanted to see a picture of that trail.

"No problem," she said. "I'll text you a picture."

"I want to see you in that picture," I responded.

She assured me the picture would have her in it. But, I knew she was already contacting her IT consultant brother in Los Angeles for his help constructing a picture of her running on a trail in New Jersey without her ever having to leave the hotel lounge or her cold beer.

I didn't mind. I was already working on a much cooler idea.

I located the hotel lounge in New Jersey and asked the attendant to serve my daughter another beer on me. He told me that would not be possible.

After a flurry of "why not" questions, it was clear that this lounge attendant was just not on the same page.

So, I moved up the management trail to the hotel manager. To my surprise I got pretty much the same answers. It went something like this.

"We can't do that, sir, if you are not here to pay for it."

"I'll put it on a credit card." I responded innocently.

"But, we can't charge your card without you actually being here." He said.

Again, I innocently inquired, "You confirm whole hotel rooms on credit cards over the telephone don't you?"

"Yes sir," he responded, "But we don't actually charge that card until you are here."

I hastened a response. "If I confirm a room but don't show up you charge the card without me ever being there."

"But that's different." He said.

I haven't a clue how or why that's different, but decided not to press it. Instead, I tried to be helpful by proposing a solution.

"Then why don't we confirm a beer for my daughter on my card, and when I don't show up tonight, you can charge me for it."

It made sense to me, but I got the same response. "No sir, we can't do that."

I was dumbfounded by the absurdity of the moment. I can be in Texas exchanging live messages with my daughter in New Jersey. At the same time, I can be talking with the hotel management, while looking at a picture on my phone, constructed by my son in Los Angeles of my daughter in New Jersey running on a trail she has never seen. All of this happening simultaneously without ever leaving my lawn chair. But I can't buy my daughter a beer!

Then it struck me. This is about right brain, left brain stuff. Right brain thinkers use feelings and imagination to develop "big picture," fantasy-based possibilities. Left brain thinkers use logic, rules and details to construct reality-based order.

I was talking to a bunch of left brainers. To them, I must have sounded most odd.

I needed to speak with someone who understood me. So, I asked the hotel manager, "Is anyone there in their right mind?"

The moment those words rolled from my lips, I knew it probably wasn't the best way to word that question. But it was too late. It got said, and all hope of positive negotiation immediately ceased.

We live in a left brain world. The technology we enjoy is a left brain invention.

But, without right brain tempering, that technology will dictate what we can and cannot do, instead of serving us by facilitating our imaginations to enhance quality of life by having a little fun.

The wealth of a nation and the well being of the world depends on having people in the room who are in their right mind. Maybe then I can buy my daughter a cold beer.

Lane Johnson, M.Div., LPC, is a licensed counselor. He welcomes your comments. You can contact him by email at lane@Strategic



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