the deus ex machina effect

7 I would like to coin a new phrase for work vocabulary, which I am calling “the deus ex machina effect.” There have been a handful of instances where I have observed peers — bright, hard-working individuals I really liked — who all of a sudden got plucked out of obscurity and chosen for leadership roles where they were subsequently extraordinarily happy and satisfied by work life and compensated beyond their wildest dreams. Watching it unfold, without an extra effort from these people (as lovely as they are), was like being near someone winning the lottery.

Deus ex machina is a term I used to hear in theater classes, and I think it’s the point in the play where the gods come down and intervene on the protagonists’ behalf and solve all their woes. At the end of “As You Like It,” the god Hymen (yup) comes down and match-makes everyone. Husband says in Greek and Roman plays, the gods actually appear from the machine to solve the unsolvable, and it’s not used any more because it’s not a believable way to write plays (according to Aristotle anyway, and what did he know). Agreed.

When I witness it in real life, I am simultaneously happy for the person while I hum this song to myself. But it is kind of an incredulous thing to observe, almost like seeing an actual demonstration of the power of fate.

Anyway, related to that (kind of) an unexpected side effect of raising three kids is that it has made me significantly tougher and more confident, and I bring this confidence to work, and I am no longer rattled by certain work obstacles. Truly, the toughest day in the office is my average night at home. My mom said there’s a Korean proverb that says a mother of three has nothing to fear (and then later, she said there’s no such proverb and that I totally made up the conversation, but that’s beside the point). My point is I can see how my outside-office life, which I always thought would hinder my career, is actually doing the opposite. I’m not experiencing the deus ex machina effect per se and may never experience it — but I’m feeling little tendrils of it and it is wild.

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