We’re born discriminating, distinguishing, and differentiating because we’re born very, very near-sighted.
Our first job in life is to distinguish ourselves from the world. To determine what’s us and not them. This hand I see, the one that moved when I thought ‘move’, it moved! That hanging thing that flung when I thought the move and meant ‘fling’, I did that! That hand belongs to me!
But that face I see, that gets close, big and round and noisy, what is it? It doesn’t move when I think move. I can reach out and touch it, but it’s separate from me. It’s different from me. It’s not part of me. It’s not me.
Who am I? What am I? This is the objective of growth.
We learn to walk, in baby steps. Tipping, teetering, flailing, falling because we’re born very, very imbalanced.
Our second job in life is to move in our world. The challenge is keeping our balance. Footholds are unsure and pavement is uneven. Our eyes learn to distinguish what is taller, what is shorter. This is closer; that is further. Spatial discrimination allows us to judge where to put our foot, how long to stride, so we can gauge how far to go, and how far we’ve gone.
Where am I? How did I get here? This is the objective of movement.
We learn to run, faster, slower, modulating effort based on terrain and conditioning because we enter the race with very little sense of pace.
Our third job in life is to navigate in our world. Now with distance vision, we wonder…Where to go. What to take with us. How much to give. How much to take. What’s it worth to you? What’s it worth to me? If there is a cost, can I pay it? Can I absorb it? What’s the proper response? How do you react when I say this or do that?
Not only am I not you, but I don’t know you.
I’m different from you, distinct from you.
I don’t think like you do.
Don’t dress like you do.
Don’t worship like you do.
Didn’t know that about you.
Didn’t know that about me.
Whoa. Then who am I?
I’m sure not you.
That’s cool! Tell me about you.
Our fourth job in life is to find our place. Look what I can do! I prefer my right hand. I favor my left foot. My right eye is dominant, but I’m left-brained. When I fold my hands, I put my right thumb on top. Oh my gosh…you don’t?! I thought everybody did. What else can’t you do?
Can you roll your tongue? Can you whistle? Can you snap? Can you make the Vulcan sign, “Live long and proper.” Sure you can. It’s like this. Let me show you. But some really can’t. Whoa. If this is preferred over that, and he is favored over her, then which side am I on? Because there’s a winning side and I want to be on it.
The world takes over there. It rewards and punishes. It dichotomizes. It separates. And the bias we came with – our ability to differentiate, to distinguish self from not self, foreground from background, distant from nearby – what was intended for our growth, ambulation, and navigation, which were all meant for our distinction, is adulterated. It becomes our nature to use it for our advantage.
We are created human, propelled into being. When we take sides, we down-shift into doing. We throttle down, engine roaring, we sprint to the finish line, plowing through our fellow humans. Each of those has dreams, as we do. Each strains to hear that singular hushed voice which hopes.
But that’s not our voice.
Our voice has volume.
Our eyes are narrowed.
Our minds are focused.
On what we already know.
We look for confirmation of what we’ve already decided.
We listen for affirmation of what we already admire.
we are supporters.
we are fans.
we’ve taken sides.
Bias? Why yes. we were born with it.
Bias is natural, but it’s not terminal.
It need not be fatal.
Mind the gap.
Creative people. Creative types. You know those people. The right-brained oddballs, who dress funny and speak funny and are just out there, you know? As much as I hate to admit it, I have labeled them this way. It’s an adjective I have used for those I am a bit jealous of because they have something I don’t have and are something I can’t be. I use it as a descriptor, a label, a separator.
Recently, I came across the phrase “the creating life”… and I like it. It’s an approach to life that looks for ways to grow things. To make things more lovely, more meaningful, more effective, more productive, more whole. Perhaps to add to what comes along or maybe just to shuffle things in their places or offer an alternative point of view. It’s lively, abundant and fruitful.
And it’s a verb. It’s active. It’s present tense. It’s something I can do and keep doing. It seeks and, by its very nature, it finds. It seems a very good way to live.
My 22 year old, bi-lingual daughter wrote me.
“Look what was on Twitter: Soy ese 99,9999999999999% que de pequeño se quedaba mirando las gotas de lluvia en el cristal del coche para ver como hacían carreras.”
“My translation: I’m one of the 99.9999999999999% who as a child sat looking at the raindrops on the car window to see how they made pathways.”
“Funny how we are all connected :)”
We can be in our own world of wonder watching intriguing, persistent drops collecting others in their path as they chart a course to the bottom of the window.
We can watch our children do this and join them in watching “the fishies.”
We can travel with another family and be startled when both sets of kids celebrate the fascination of the rain drop’s plight and, yes, draw the adults into the game.
But only when we share in words with friends, in words of an email, in a text or tweet, in images, even with those in another country via another language, do we discover that so many join us and have joined us in ages past in watching this most simple of things.
A drop of water, gathering others on its way.
And then do we conclude: “Funny how we are all connected.” 🙂