A few observations and much reasoning lead to error; many observations and a little reasoning to truth.
Last week I had the good fortune to be invited to participate with a number of others in a quick review of our city now and what it might be in the future. It was interesting to hear the differences in what the individuals in the group saw in our community from their perspective. The very differences in what we see when aggregated together and then refined provide us a great opportunity to see our city in all its dimensions and not as a monolith filtered through our sometimes biased eyes.
Bias is maybe the wrong word, possibly a better word would be our failure to see all there is to see. Sometimes we are just too busy or lazy to look but I suspect many of us only look once, store the memory and then fail to see the changes as they take place.
It was an interesting coincidence that I ran into an old friend at the meeting who is a renowned architect that I introduced to one of my favorite Indianapolis leaders. In the introduction I shared that the architect friend had changed my life years ago when he showed me and others a slide show of all we miss when we walk around downtown. I saw beautiful cornices of buildings, little but meaningful touches to building exteriors and much more. I learned that if we want to take full advantage of all there is to see we need to open our eyes and look.
I think it is the same thing when we examine every aspect of the communities in which we live. How well are our educational systems working, are our neighborhoods flourishing or withering, what about safety, and infrastructure, and the arts, and…and….? If we don’t look and only ignore what is around us we miss a lot that is very good but we also ignore what we need to improve on.
It was fun to be with so many keen observers the other night. We began to see where we need to work to make things better and as well take pride in the things that work but that far too often go unseen.
Ralph Marston tells us we all owe it to ourselves to look more closely; here is what he wrote on the subject some time ago.
There are miracles all around you. All you have to do is notice them.
There are plenty of opportunities for moving forward in precisely the direction you wish to go. You simply must allow yourself to notice them. The world has a way of calling your attention to certain things, yet those are only the things the world wants you to see. It’s up to you to direct your focus upon those things you wish to see.
There are countless things that you can notice right now that no one else has ever noticed. Great fortunes and lives of outstanding achievement have been built by those who notice what had previously gone unnoticed.
Just a little curiosity can spark your interest. Just a little more can uncover all sorts of things that are truly amazing and valuable.
There’s no limit to the abundance you can tap into when you notice that it’s there. Open your eyes, open your mind, be clear and authentic about your purpose, and notice the hidden treasures that are literally everywhere.
“You can observe a lot just by watching.”
She said: One day I called my mother from my apartment to make some plans with her. In the background behind her, I could hear a terrible noise, like a jet plane taking off.
“Mother,” I asked apprehensively, “what’s that awful noise?”
“It’s the dishwasher,” she replied. “Your father fixed it.”
A friend: someone who likes you even after they know you.
Soon after marriage, a lady’s husband stopped wearing his wedding ring.
She asked, “Why don’t you ever wear your wedding band?”
He replied, “It cuts off my circulation.”
She answered back, “It’s supposed to!”
Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.
A naive young gal was playing Trivial Pursuit one night. It was her turn, she rolled the dice and she landed on “Science & Nature”. Her question was, “If you are in a vacuum and someone calls your name, can you hear it?”
She thought for a time and then asked, “Is it on or off?”
Why is it that night falls but day breaks?
A man goes to his golf club and, hearing that his regular caddy will not be in that day, hires another caddy.
The day goes along pretty well and the new caddy seems quite knowledgeable. Upon arriving at the 9th fairway, that has always been particularly tricky for the golfer, the man turns to the boy and asks, “Which club do you think I should use for this shot?” The caddy says, “Sir, I know this golf course very well. The best club for this fairway is the five iron.”
The golfer gets out his five iron, lines up his shot, and hits the ball. He smacks it really hard and it veers way off to the right where his wife happens to be standing. It hits her in the head and she is killed instantly.
Months go by after his wife’s funeral, and the man still can’t think about golf. But after a year, he thinks, “I really loved the game. I shouldn’t let it go out of my life. It was a freak accident. The game gave me such joy, I should at least try to play once more and see how it feels.” He goes back to the golf course, and as luck would have it, he gets the same caddy as last time. When they get to the 9th fairway, he turns to his caddy and says, “Which club do you think I should use?” The caddy says, “Sir, I know this golf course very well. The best club for this fairway is the five iron.” The man turns to the caddy and shouts, “You idiot! I played here a year ago and you told me to use the five iron and I completely missed the green!!!”
“It takes a woman twenty years to make a man of her son, and another woman twenty minutes to make a fool of him.”
A little rural town had one of the highest birth rates in the country and this phenomenon attracted the attention of the sociologists at the state university.
They wrote a grant proposal; got a huge chunk of money; moved to town; set up their computers; got squared away; and began designing their questionnaires and such.
While the staff was busy getting ready for their big research effort, the project director decided to go to the local drugstore for a cup of coffee. He sat down at the counter, ordered his coffee, and while he was drinking it, he told the druggist what his purpose was in town, then asked him if he had any idea why the birth rate was so high.
“Sure,” said the druggist. “Every morning the six o’clock train comes through here and blows for the crossing. It wakes everybody up, and, well, it’s too late to go back to sleep, and it’s too early to get up.”
“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And, because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change until we notice how our failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”
R. D. Laing
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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