Friday, August 20, 2010

Take time to look

On the day I came back from Orcas, I chose -- as usual -- to take the Edmonds ferry back over to our side of the peninsula, but after waiting in line for a half hour or so we were informed that there had been some sort of power failure with the ferry gate, and were re-directed to the Seattle ferry.

I was a little grumbly about the delay and having to drive through Seattle traffic, especially since I would have to cross the water again to be in the city for a 4pm meeting.  But it was -- as you can see -- a glorious day, and as I pulled into my third ferry line of the day a paraglider was plying its way across the Seattle shoreline, so of course I got my camera out.

What's fun about this picture is that it looks a bit scary -- above and beyond the thrill of flying through the air attached to a small boat!  But actually, if you take time to look closely, you realize that it's all a matter of perspective: in fact, the paraglider is considerably closer to me than he is to the space needle, and is in no danger of getting entangled in those supports.

It's hard, sometimes, to stand by and watch when it looks like a situation may be getting dangerously out of control; harder still to know when to stand by, and when to step in and interfere.  That decision takes discernment, and discernment takes time, a willingness to examine, and a willingness to listen for an indication of how we might be called to respond: often the kneejerk reaction is not the correct one, and can create more harm than good.

I suppose that's the real power of the phrase "kneejerk liberal" -- the assumption being that the liberal in question hasn't really taken the time to evaluate the situation, but has rather leaped to conclusions based on appearances.  It's that leap, of course, that makes it so easy to demonize the "other" -- and it's a leap easily made by people on both sides of the political spectrum -- or the religious spectrum, for that matter.  But the act of looking before we leap; well -- that takes time, and evaluation, and it would be so much simpler if we didn't have to do that!

But Patricia Madson, in my reading this morning from her book, Improv Wisdom, cites an old zen proverb: "Use two hands to carry one thing instead of one hand to carry two things."  If we can just stop trying to parallel process, stop rushing from task to task; if we could just make time to stop and breathe and evaluate,  we might accomplish less, but it's also possible we'd be a bit wiser, and do everything we do more effectively.  "Measure twice, cut once" is the other saying that's relevant here: take the time up front, and you might find you don't actually need to cut at all.


Maureen said...

Love the Zen proverb.

Have a great weekend.

Louise Gallagher said...

I like this photo and the wisdom of this post.