Today I spent most of my day in a hospital waiting room. There were all sorts of people there; young and old, loud and quiet, book readers and tv watchers. All of us there in one of the most powerless positions imagined. Each of us trying to find something to do to occupy our minds while a loved one’s life was in another’s hand.
It’s not a good feeling. To kiss, hug, say goodbye, to someone who means so much to you and trust the person who will be doing the surgery that they have enough knowledge, training, and skill to hold another’s life in their hands and know what to do with it.
I was by myself, which was fine. Others had one, two or a whole group to help them through the challenge of waiting. Finally, my name was called to the post-op area and was able to go back and see that everything was fine and breathed a sigh of relief and thankful words.
Waiting is never easy but key to building trust.
Tag Along –
One of the more interesting things to watch as the two men we hired to remodel our bathroom is how one of them tags along behind the other. Clearly one has the experience, the know-how, to redo the bathroom and overcome any obstacles they encounter. The other, younger one, has the strong back and follows orders instantly. Whatever the older needs his assistant retrieves so the work can be done as quickly as possible. I’m not sure how much the younger knows but I do know he is under no illusion that his knowledge matches or surpasses the veteran builder. Wherever the seasoned worker goes the other tags along; handing him the tools, wood, drywall, fixtures and whatever else might be needed. They seem to make a good team.
I was talking with some men last week and asked them if they’ve ever encountered a “know it all?” Every one of them raised their hands. “The problem with ‘knowing it all’, I said is you never learn anything.”
A wise man once said; “If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with people who disagree with you.”
Socrates said; “True knowledge begins
in knowing that you know nothing.“
Yesterday I arrived home worn out. It had been a long day. I had a lot of stuff to bring inside but wasn’t in the mood to make two trips. So, I grabbed everything and stumbled, bumbled my way to the front door. Contorting and twisting I was able to open the front door and set down my leather work bag. That’s when I noticed that one of the items, an almost empty coffee mug with a cap, wasn’t as securely closed, or had become opened with all the twisting and turning I did opening the door, and coffee to spill into one of the other bags I was carrying. “Argh!” My frustration wasn’t at the coffee dripping off of the sweater in the bag but at myself for not taking the time to make two trips.
Wisdom teaches us that balance and not carrying more than we can handle is central to peace of mind. My refusal to live this lesson yesterday left a big mess. I sometimes wonder if I am the example wisdom uses to teach others how not to live.
I washed off the coffee stains as best I could, asked Beth to wash the sweaters, put on some comfy clothes and breathed out the irritation at self. Perhaps one day these lessons I write about will sink below knowing and become part of my being.
Sometimes working with people can be exhausting. You think you’ve reached a turning point which will make all the difference only to discover that around the corner leads to a dead-end.
I was speaking to a group of dads today and explaining to them each family, similar to individuals are unique. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to helping people get well and healthy. It takes time, effort and a willingness to listen, get to know, build trust and a relationship. Only then are you able to guide folks toward choices which benefit them and those they love.
Too often we approach people and life with a predetermined way of how things should be. We allow our biases, judgments and limited knowledge to build a lens which distorts our view. If we are to be of real service to those we love, our neighbors, those in need ,we cannot skip over respect, listening, building trust and relationships. If we only have a part of the picture and proceed to “fix” what we believe to be the problem we may end up causing more harm than good.
I have to admit, I thought this was funny and inside of me an attitude of; “that’s what the driver deserved!” It’s a needed lesson for this young man and couldn’t be easy to learn in such a way with many people looking on, laughing, cheering, yelling at him.
I then thought; “what if all my mistakes were so public? What if every time I made a bad choice, a wrong decision, it was being recorded and a put on large display, which made everyone look at me, see my lack of wisdom and knowledge?” I wouldn’t like it. I would be embarrassed. I would hopefully never make the same misjudgment again but the shame of how I learned would be with me for a very long time.
A wise sage once said; “Praise in public, correct in private. This is how wisdom is best gained.”
Last night I participated in a group discussion about the need for leaders and teachers to always be learning. We talked about simply telling staff/students to have a life long thirst for knowledge and truly having a personal desire to never stop growing in wisdom. As the discussion progressed one of the participants made the comment; “I have a bacehlor’s and master’s degree. If someone is going to teach me they need to realize and respect how much I already know !” After a few moments I quoted to him a thought from Galileo Galilei;
“I’ve never a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.”
A wisdom which is grounded in humility is a heart felt conviction that every person, situation, event is an opportunity to grow, mature, become more aware of a much larger world. Humility allows us to explore the deepest recesses of humanity, be made aware of how small we are and how large the universe of which we are apart.
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.” ― William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”
Wisdom teaches us to leave our perceptions, labels, convictions of our own aptitude and grandiose opinions of our intellect and accept that we can learn much more when we understand how little we actually know.
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Socrates