Different Angles

Every so often Maureen and I have our two local grandchildren come for a sleep over. It’s a grand affair and we have tons of fun. My six-year-old grandson, Evan, and I are the early risers.

Recently he and his sister, Kirsten, were here for the weekend, arriving Saturday afternoon. The next morning, I got up and quietly went upstairs to my office and began writing. After a few minutes I heard his feet on the stairs and watched as he pushed the door open and came over to me. He sat in my lap and we surveyed my office walls, which are filled with some of my most treasured memories. He had lots of questions, as I suspected he would.

I pointed to a picture straight in front of us and asked if he knew who was in it. He didn’t, so I told him that it was his mom when she was about four-years-old.

We swiveled in the chair and I asked if he knew who drew the sequence of about five pictures I aimed a finger at. He thought for a minute, but wasn’t sure. I told him they were done by his mom. He commented, “those are really good!”

I love those pictures and the beautiful child who drew them. I am so grateful for the love I share with her and now with her children as well.

When I glanced again at her pictures, it occurred to me that we all see things from a different vantage point. We somehow evaluate with different criteria and assess, perhaps, according to our own skill level. And, we’re impressed or not, often based on comparisons.

It made me realize that whenever we use comparisons, we open ourselves and create many opportunities for distress and dissatisfaction, rather than just appreciating something as it is.

This isn’t the only way of seeing things. Instead of using a comparison, with our own or others ‘work’, we sometimes set up an ‘ideal’, then judge according to it. We allow ‘experts’ in the field to establish standards or norms and accept these as the rule. Think, ‘standardized tests’ for one.

I wonder what other ways there are. Perhaps there are different angles we could take. I thought it might be worth some of my time to consider.

One could be where ‘no ideal’ is set and where an individual would be encouraged to pursue their own personal development.

As it relates to schooling, there is such a process, known as the Montessori method. It leans on the principles of self-directed activities, hands-on learning and collaborative play. Children make their own creative choices in their learning and have highly trained teachers to help guide them.

Imagine how good that must feel to a child, to have some say about the direction their education and their life takes.

I wonder how children in this program do, once they are out in the world. Are they better prepared or are they hampered because they haven’t had to conform to strict rules and regulations?

When I was in college I was able to participate in an experimental program called, The Living Learning Center. There were freshmen through seniors and we all lived in the same dorm and took a set of common classes together. We had several professors who were dedicated to our program and stayed with us the entire year. It was fantastic and as a senior, I learned more during that year than I did during my previous three. I’ve always been grateful for this experience and recognize that many of my ideas and sense of freedom came from this year in my life.

I find that taking a broad approach and looking for different angles has opened my world and made for a much happier life.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

A Sense of Fairness

Often it seems that fairness is hard to come by. We are apt to judge by so many different standards that arriving at any agreement becomes difficult. It can make you wonder if there is such a thing as fairness.

I’m pretty sure the whole idea starts out early in life, as if we were born with an inner sense of what could be considered fair. Watching children for even a short period of time it’s likely you’ll spot this. I think most parents would say it happens every day. One child has a toy the other wants and an argument breaks out or one of the children rips the toy from the others hand and runs away, each one shouting, “it’s not fair”.

I’m not sure that any of us ever outgrows some version of this.

We seem to have an expectation that life will be fair. Why is this? Who is it that made this promise to us, as if the world owes each one of this valuable gift?

When the balance tips and we sense injustice, it hurts. We feel it most keenly when we act in a certain way, using our idea of good behavior. We anticipate or expect a reward and if we don’t receive it, we may claim that life is not fair because, after all we’ve done our part.

This happens all throughout our lives. At home, in school, at work and in our relationships.

Maybe part of the challenge is that we don’t all use the same definitions of the word ‘fair’. One dictionary says that ‘fair’ is defined as, ‘acting in accordance with rules or standards’.

I can certainly see how this creates a problem. Whose rules are we talking about? And who is in charge of setting up the standards? If we end up with numerous rules and standards, how could there ever be any hope that there would be only ONE way to measure fairness?

Maybe it’s time to take a step back.

There seems to me to be a short, medium and long view here.

In the short view, we have two basic choices, we either complain about a situation or we accept it. In the medium view, we may choose to try to find ways to change a situation and arrive at a better sense of fairness. A negotiation of sorts.

I wonder if there is a long view we can take. One that supposes that life is operating on a grander scale than we can see. That fairness is bigger and broader than we thought.

Three questions pop up for me.

Do I actually know all of the facts involved so that I can make a determination about fairness? Not even remotely likely. There are just too many things I may not know.

At what point is it wise for me disregard my opinion about fairness, if it makes me unhappy? After all, I don’t have control over every outcome. If it’s more important to lead a happy satisfied life, maybe it doesn’t matter as much about my perception of fairness.

And the most important question is who can I turn to for some insight and inspiration?

My answer is always the same, the divine. For me, it is the part of (god) I call Lia (love in action). When I asked her for guidance about fairness, she asked me to trust that everything in life ‘serves me’, no matter how it looks at the time and that there is always an underlying love that threads through every action.

To truly understand, I need examples. Maybe you do too, so here is a quick one.

I invariably pick the slow lane at the grocery check-out, which can feel unfair. If I step back I recognize this is a feeling, not a fact and that if it makes me unhappy, that is my choice, but not a wise one nor worth the cost. And if I look a bit deeper, I notice that, while I am waiting I see more. I have a chance to slow down and breathe and make eye contact with others. I can even close my eyes and call Lia to me and savor my connection to the divine.

So, it’s okay with me if I end up in the slow lane because I’m changing the name now to – the savor lane.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.