I was talking with a friend recently who believes in Bigfoot. My friend is intelligent, philosophical, pragmatic and practical. When I found out he was a believer in Bigfoot I was surprised. At one time he was an avid outdoorsman and through his study and interviews with other people has been convinced by Bigfoot sightings and other evidence. When we talked about it I told him I didn’t believe in Bigfoot. There simply isn’t enough proof that people have seen what they think they saw or that the “evidence” is purposefully or accidentally being misinterpreted. However, I always make this caveat with my friend. “Just because I don’t believe in Bigfoot doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”
Wisdom teaches us to be careful about our beliefs. Too often we want to force our convictions on another and convince them to think like we do. The first step on the path of wisdom is the truth that we know nothing. It is the first and only place to begin and exist. Wisdom is a paradox. The more we know, learn, practice, the more we don’t know.
We live in a world full of people convinced they see reality “as is” and if you don’t see it their way you’re wrong! Religion, politics, cultures, ethnicities, separate us into groups and life becomes about “us” and “them.” Maybe, if we listened attentively, spoke softly, and held our fragile beliefs as bubbles ready to pop any time and open us up to a world we didn’t even know existed, we’d celebrate humility instead of hubris.
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Corner of My Eye –
This morning I stopped by our main offices to pick up a package and papers which had arrived. As I was leaving the building, looking through my mail, a person caught the corner of my eye. However, my interest was in my hands, not in anything else. “Hi! How are you?” I stopped in my tracks and looked up to see the person asking the question was a co-worker. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there!” I hastily replied not wanting to come off rude just unobservant. “How was your weekend?” I inquired and we chatted briefly. She left to go inside and I climbed into my truck.
Once inside I thought about my response; “I didn’t see you there.” It was an honest confession albeit not a good one. I did see someone, a shape, a movement, someone not important enough to tear myself away from looking at the package I received. When I realized it was someone I knew my demeanor and perspective changed. However, the truth is that if it wasn’t someone I knew I never would’ve given the person a second glance. I want to change that. I want to “see” everyone, acknowledge each person I possibly can, not give extra attention simply because I know them but because they are worth looking at, engaging and connecting.
I want to see every “You” there.
Last night I attended a local sheriff’s training event called; “Citizen’s Academy.” It is a ten week course that anyone in the community can sign up for to learn more about the law enforcement work being done in our community. The focus for last night’s session dealt with the county jail. I was invited because of our company’s work with the residents of the jail and the classes I teach to incarcerated fathers.
Before it was my turn to present the Chief Deputy spoke about the jail, the residents, how they cook the food, book and transport residents, the contraband they find, the amount of people they house in a given year. Following this, some of the correctional officers, their commanders and medical staff shared stories about what everyday life is like working with an incarcerated population. The stories were mostly negative, interesting and scary. Most people don’t like being locked up and can show it in some unseemly ways. I listened as they described their typical shift experiences and reflected on the different atmosphere and environment I’ve experienced in the dad classes.
Most of the men I’ve taught have been respectful and willing to learn. They’ve opened themselves up to a new way thinking, doing and being. The correctional officers see the worst and, to survive, are trained to expect difficulties and how to diffuse conflict. I on the other hand sit with guys for a couple of hours a week and mostly receive their best efforts. They don’t volunteer to go to jail but volunteer to take the class. They don’t want to be stuck in a cell all day but do want to come to a different setting whether for a new way to think or simply a new set of walls to stare at for an hour.
It’s amazing how two sets of people can look at the same place, people, circumstances and see things vastly different. Perspective is a fickled thing.
It was cold in the house this morning as I pulled off the covers and began turning on the heaters. “Whoo!” I thought to myself. After a few moments I took the dogs outside for their routine and several minutes later, when I came back inside, suddenly the house felt much warmer. I knew it wasn’t because it had suddenly become warm but because out was much colder than in.
Perspective. Change your perspective and you change a lot. Sometimes the difference makes all the difference.
We are quick to label, judge, decide, hand in a verdict, before we look at situations, people, life from a different point of view. Wisdom teaches us that often it’s not the other that needs changing its our way of seeing, knowing, being.