Thursday, January 27, 2005

I could be wrong

I post horoscopes like yesterday on the refrigerator to try to teach myself to listen. Today, I am still working on yesterday’s message.

Don't get so wrapped up in your own ideas that you feel you must defend all your opinions with your life. That will take away the flexibility you need so badly. The truth of the matter is that you may not always know the best route to take. Other forces are directing you to a better path.

This one is a hard lesson for an intuitive child who saw too much and whose perceptions were often dismissed, a child who grew into an adult distrustful of intuitive capacity and defensive of what she sees. Peeling back the onion layers of personal development, first we learn—children like me—to believe what we see. But this just leads us to new faults, to hold our views rigidly, to defend them against perceived attack, and to pretend that our views are the only reality.

Reality is in the eye of the beholder. I only know my story. Each other person knows only his or her story. And because we are each players in the stories of others, the stories collide in narrative space, with one person’s truth becoming an intrusion on another’s story.

Reality changes. Time alters the relationships of all things, and entropy is the watchword, its downward and outward spiral interrupted by new growth, light and grace. And as the physicists have taught us, reality changes just because we look at it.

So the next layer we learn—children like me—is that we can be wrong. It sometimes happens that we can take in the myriad mosaic bits and process them ferociously, only to create…nonsense. It happens. But once we learn to say “I could be wrong” it happens less often and with less stunning, less disastrous consequences. We learn we can be wrong and that the world doesn’t end. We learn that the very words “I could be wrong” preserve our friendships.

Perhaps most important, we learn that the words “I could be wrong” don’t invalidate our intuitive capabilities. We could be wrong, but we act to forestall negative consequences…just in case we might be right. We could be right, but even the most well-intentioned communication of our views might not be accepted. Then again, we could just plain be wrong. Every measuring instrument fails sometimes. All of our human ways of knowing each other are blunt instruments, ways of waving from one deck to another as our ships pass in the night.

All I really know is my own story, but I can try to be sensitive to each person’s need to weave a personal narrative thread. I can practice saying, “I could be wrong” because, in fact, I often am wrong about others’ lives, their motivations, their ways of relating to me. Most people really are sunk deep in their own stories, as I am in mine. The least I can do is to summon up the generosity to admit that there are other stories that account for the actions I see around me, while still retaining respect for my own perceptions and my own story. And I can trust that other forces are directing me to a better path.


Robert said...

This reminds me of an incident in a class some years back, where the professor was trying to put some perspective on big numbers. He asked the class if anyone knew the age of the universe.

"Thirty-six years!" I answered.

He looked at me with this odd expression, a sort of facial "Huh?"

"That's all I can personally vouch for," I explained.

Visual-Voice said...

"We learn that the very words “I could be wrong” preserve our friendships. "

You're very wise, my friend. I think the older I get, the less I know. I keep telling myself it's the past to wisdom.

What sign are you??? Can't help bur ask.

Karen said...

Leo. Can you tell? Three planets in soupy, sensitive Cancer. Sagittarius rising. The mask that keeps me sane. You?

Funny thing is that I don't believe in pre-ordination, therefore cannot believe in astrology, not really. But like Jungian archetypes, the stories can be helpful...looking for that ping to the breastbone, I still read my horoscopes (several of them) every day. Sometimes I fancy that my daily Tarot is a more immediate and flexible tool for God to get a message into my consciousness...after all, there is a random element as the message only kicks in when I click on the "Daily Tarot" button. One has to pity God, who has so few direct ways to get through to us, his wayward and stubborn children.