We can have all sorts of good plans about “what we’ll do when…” but then we don’t recognize when “when” is “now.” It makes me think when I was 16 and thought I knew everything. I certainly knew more than my 6th grade education father, who’d worked himself to the bone to provide for us ungrateful kids. We repaid him by acting up and smarting off and disrespecting him at every turn. I mis-took schoolbook memorization as knowledge, and according to that measure, I was the smart one. Mmmm. Of course I realize as time goes on that I knew nothing back then and not a whole lot more right now. I’m always surprising myself by what I think I know.
My dad had more wisdom to impart than I could take in. Since I didn’t care for the packaging it came in, it took me decades to get the lesson. I wanted some guru fairy godmother to twinkle down and tell me the secrets of the universe and then I’d just sit smugly back on my meditation cushion, all the whilst jetting up the evolutionary ladder. I didn’t think I was volunteering to go on the ropes and actually duke it out in person with another human being, especially one that had control over me?
Simply put, I had an idea of how it should be and if it wasn’t that way, I couldn’t take the moment as opportunity. I failed to correctly judge where I stood on the ladder. If I think I know something, I may not want to hear what someone else thinks they know about it. I didn’t always know that. And I don’t always notice when I do it now.
It’s like I wrote at Effective Communication: Or Apples and Oranges: I’ve been having a recent spell of misjudging my audience, with sometimes comical results. My most notable example was several years ago when I had walked into a metaphysical class at the last minute. It was a class I’d not been to before, although I knew many of the people in it. I came in and took the only available seat – next to the facilitator, just as they were beginning to go around the circle and give our names.
The question we were all to answer was “name one thing you would change about your body.” Inexplicably, they began with me, the newcomer. But I was glad for the question because I’d given it some thought just that morning! I said I’d like to be able to extend my arms out so they were 2-3 times as long, to enable me to accomplish tasks that needed long arms. Either that or I’d like a tail, a prehensile tail that I could use to grip things with. You could hear a pin drop. They thought I was kidding.
The next woman to speak introduced herself and said she’d like to weigh 20 pounds less. The next one never liked her hair and so she’d make it straighter and finer. A few didn’t like their noses and they wanted to change that. Thighs and wrinkles were other changes mentioned, as well as bad habits and character traits. I was stunned. It didn’t take long to realize I had taken for granted that I was in a different level class than I was actually in. Here I was, in a class of people I know to be metaphysical students for decades, and these were their sincere responses? I was stunned into silence. These were all things that were well within their control to change and work on.
Example: Before my father in law moved in with me in 2000, he lived alone and didn’t appear to need any help taking care of himself. He had his table of medicines he took at meals, so I figured he had it all under control. He did not. I did not know until he finally called me one afternoon to let me know he’d fallen earlier that morning, but didn’t want to bother me because he knew I was busy. He spent 5 hours on the bathroom floor, “but it was okay,” he said, “I’ve got the telephone and the remote control.”
I live 3 miles away. Can you imagine? He didn’t want to be a bother. He was the kindest, gentlest man you can imagine, and he didn’t want to bother me. That weekend I asked him to move in with me. Three years later he went to the hospital for his back and was discharged to a nursing home. There they were in charge of giving his meds at the right time in the right dosage. His mind cleared up within weeks. I noticed the difference and it never occurred to me that he was not taking his medications as he should have been.
He didn’t think he was forgetful. I try to keep in mind that I do forget things and I can be wrong sometimes. That helps me be a little more clear on where I stand on the whole evolution of consciousness ladder. When I keep in mind that I don’t always really know what I think I know, I am open to learning more.
I have a friend who is nearing the stage where she’ll need someone to care for her soon. She doesn’t think she’s in that stage.
It is my hopeful expectation that by the time I am nearing that rung on the ladder, I’ll have made some kind of mental preparation and accepted myself at every age along the way.