Where You’re Going –
This morning, at a community group for dads, I talked with the men about the importance of “Putting First Things First.” It’s a concept which deals with knowing what’s truly the most important things in our lives and using those as a framework for how we live. When you know what’s important then every decision is made according to your paradigm, your life’s mission statement. If a decision is made that does not fit the schematics of who you are and who you want to become you make it right. Otherwise, you are traveling in the opposite direction of where you need to go.
Everything we do, walking the road of life, involves passion, energy, and time. We have limited supplies of all three. We have to choose how we are going to use them. Our life is a list of the things we do and deem important. The more items on our list the less passion, energy, and time we have to give each item. The fewer items on the list the more we have to give.
This is why knowing what’s important, where you are going, is a must. It allows us to make sure some items remain on our list, what important, and eliminate the unimportant. Direction is easy once we decide where we want to go.
I know someone who is a friend of a friend. I’ve briefly encountered this individual a handful of times. The thing is, for some reason, this person rubbed me the wrong way. He hadn’t done anything to me except be himself and being himself didn’t sit right with me. I had lots of excuses as to why this person was what I thought he was but nothing tangible, just a feeling.
Then, earlier this week, I learned something about this man and it suddenly shifted my view. There were still those things that got on my nerves but while a few weeks ago they looked so big now they seemed petty and brought upon me a sense of shame.
It’s easy to teach and write about not judging others but a whole other level to practice what you speak. All it took was one thing to shift my view, understanding of this man and his life. An important and embarrassing reminder that we must always be on guard about how we see people. There’s always more there than we initially see and experience.
I’ve never been an optimist. I’m not sure what, in my childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood happened to make me look on the dark side of things but I do. Psychiatrists say that people with depression and anxiety have different way of seeing and thinking. One of the ways we differ is expecting the worst out of most situations. This feeds anxiety which also leaves us open for a depressive episode. Black and white thinking, feeling guilty for everything that goes wrong, all or nothing thinking are other ways our minds try to make sense of the world around us.
It is difficult but learning not to automatically accept my view of reality is a lesson I am learning and trying to put into practice. Examining our way of thinking and seeing the world is also a wisdom discipline. We each have biases, paradigms, views of life that have been shaped by where, when and how we were raised and what we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. Our environments, cultures, religious preferences, and more result in a worldview which few people seldom question. We assume the way we see the world, life, is how it should be and when it fails to meet our expectations and preferences we tend to judge the people, institutions, whoever and whatever refuses to submit to our viewpoints.
No longer being prisoners to our way of thinking can be one of the hardest places to escape from but it can lead us to a freedom few will ever know.
Everyone should have a friend who dances to their own music, marches to the beat of their own drummer. These special ones seem to walk a path that others cannot see and probably wouldn’t have the courage to navigate a path so culturally unconceived.
We seemingly live in a world where there are only two sides. These sides are chosen by litmus tests and depending on what you believe, where you stand on the issues, a label is slapped on you and you assume the responsibility and culpability of all others labeled and standing along side you. There is no nuance, no subtleties and we all suffer from it. Vitriol, disdain and hostility are hurled at those on the other side and our cultures are divided seemingly to never be brought together again.
I wonder if there are enough people who would dare to not accept this paradigm, view of life, of others. Are there enough folks who would put aside the expectations and be the exceptions to what our world demands? How many would choose to belong to the community of nuance, walk the road less traveled and dance to the music of the middle?
Our little ol’ farm house needs a fan in the bathroom. Actually the entire bathroom needs remodeling but we can only do so many projects at a time and spend so much money.
When one of us gets a shower the compact room fills with steam and the mirrors become so fogged it’s impossible to see your reflection, much less shave, comb hair, or do other “getting ready” activities.
During the summer we got into the habit of putting a fan in the hall outside of the room and blowing cool air in. It worked well but with fall approaching the nights are getting cooler and so is the house. As a result, even with the fan, the mirrors fog more quickly and are more difficult to keep clear.
After getting dressed this morning I sat on the couch waiting for the Mrs. to finish. I began thinking about foggy mirrors and how life often reflects back to us what we think, believe, our preferences and prejudices. We see what we want, or have been conditioned, to see.
Then, we go through, experience, an unexpected event or perhaps encounter a person that distorts our worldview, challenges our perceptions, makes us question many of the foundations our existence is built upon.
At first we may resist, defend, hold tightly to our paradigms of the way the world is or how we think it should be. Wisdom, however, tells us not to be afraid to deeply examine our convictions, our vision and understanding of what surrounds us, what is beyond us and what is within us.
Oftentimes we discover it’s not the reflection which needs to be made clear but the eyes of our mind and spirit.