(Don’t skip the p.s.)
Sunday, 6:20 PM. Jen’s flight’s canceled. Kate stomps in saying “I can’t get that boat of a (Ford) Flex in your stupid little garage” and she’s wondering how she’ll get back to Ann Arbor for a 10:00 AM class on Monday. Jack was supposed to be home an hour ago from a friends. As he’ll no doubt remind me when he gets in, “What a waste to get all this snow, when we’ve got (President’s) Day off tomorrow.” Our little Sunday dinner won’t be happening.
Sunday, 6:20 PM. I look out the window to see the snow on the deck rail. Is it a fluffy white Afro, or a quadruple thick Oreo center, or just a thick core of foam, quieting and coolly insulating the evening. After a warming week, it’s Christmas again, idyllic pine trees heavy laden with the soft stuff that makes the North a wondrous fantasy.
What is it that determines which of these it will be, which of these I will see? As you open your email: Do you see an avalanche, another dumping, cruel fate, more slogging ahead for you? Or is it truly a wonder – to have customers to serve, friends updating, family staying in touch, opportunities to serve, answer, dialogue, give feedback, and contribute? Do you think there is some objective reality to it? Is there intrinsic meaning, or reality, to the inbox you confront this morning?
It should be obvious that you and I shape what it is we will experience. We project. Our minds, like LCD projectors, cast onto the world we see, a self-fulfilling expectation. Often one of randomness. Or maybe it’s not quite randomness, but as that Famous Murphy guy had it in his Law of the Ego in Eternal Struggle, a world where the only reliable pattern is that “what can go wrong for ME will go wrong for ME.”
Although it runs counter to our pretending (as we were taught) that the world is solid, a detached reality, the truth is that we choose what we see in it. What we choose to think – whether we’re aware of that choice or not – we will see. We often unknowingly make a fundamental choice to see this world – and even ourselves in it – as a threat. But we have the opportunity to see the world and everything in our lives as gifts or blessings – opportunities to give, to learn, to care beyond ourselves, and to experience the magnificence of it all. The truth is (at least mine so often has been) that we choose – in choices so deep we didn’t know we made them – to see the snow as an attack, the email as an attack, the endangering driver as an attack, our kids-being-kids and spouse-being-human as some kind of attack on us. The idiot leaders? An attack. Global warming? An attack. The people who foolishly think there’s global warming? Another attack. (Indeed this idea that you create or project your so-called reality may, itself, feel like…well, you guessed it, an attack – on your deepest views about you and the world. Hmmm, wouldn’t that be interesting?).
I’m offering a simple idea that I’ve been (re)learning that’s changing my life and will change my life today in a hundred moments or so of fundamental choice. I can choose how I will see. Today, I’ll see the opportunity to experience others, to tackle problems, and to give something back, as the most awesome of gifts. And this, is THE most transformative idea that I’ve ever experienced about leading
with your best self,
P.S. I’d love your help for a friend of mine. Last year Mick McKellar, whom I met as a reader of this e-column, was sixty-one, immensely talented as a writer, but long-term unemployed, way up in the rural Upper Peninsula. When I asked him, Mick agreed to edit my book Be Real. Then just as he finished his work on it last spring, he found out he had an aggressive form of leukemia. Although all of our days are numbered, Mick’s days appeared to be numbered in low digits. He’s been inspiring me with his “carpe diem” attitude, and today, he’ll receive a bone marrow transplant at the Mayo Clinic. I ask you for two things: most important, prayers for Mick. You can also help in another way. Mick is now on 9 meds, all of which have copays. I am going to give all the proceeds of sales of my book this week to Mick and his wife Marian to help with those costs. If you’ve thought about buying a copy of Be Real, this would be a great time to do it!