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Monday, February 24, 2014

Seeing your path, walking your path, and knowing the difference.

Last night, my honey and I watched "The Matrix." Even though it's 15 years old, it remains a cinematic marvel. Especially when you consider how movies have evolved in that time. Most of the thrill that is "The Matrix" involves the special effects and plot mystery of what is real vs. what is simulated. Buried within the special effects and bullet-dodging of the movie lay snippets of truth.

Every Sunday when I watch "Downton Abbey," I want to pause it a dozen times to ponder the profound insight uttered from the characters' mouths. Such a smart show, it inspires numerous rabbit-trails of thought, especially when Maggie Smith's character speaks. You must pay close attention to each scene, each line of dialogue.

"The Matrix" doesn't command such attention and doesn't create pause. Most of the movie evokes thoughts of "cool special effects, especially for the 90's." The plot, the character development, and the dialogue all follow a foreseeable path. But then the character, Morpheus, says, "There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path." And what was brain candy sparks an examination of how I traverse my life.

So often, we know the path we should take. Relationally, spiritually, practically, emotionally, philosophically. Our minds see a certain ideology or our hearts understand a certain core belief that guides our decisions and relationships. We strive to stay within the guardrails imposed by the constraints of the reality we embrace. We envision a life defined by what exists in that zone of understanding.

But in our daily lives, we find walking the path we've designed to be much harder than we'd ever imagined. The expectations we reasonably set for ourselves seem insurmountable in the reality of our daily lives. We realize the limitations of our humanness and resolve ourselves to the fact that we will never effortlessly traverse the path we'd envisioned. But that's okay. As long as we identify the path and do our best to seek it, we'll make steps toward bettering ourselves.

So let's seek to not only know the path, but follow it as far as possible and better ourselves on the journey.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A small but profound insight from the book, "Divergent"

Tonight I finished "Divergent," the first book in the newest Young Adult genre trilogy. Well-written, the book pulls you into a futuristic-dystopian Chicago in which society is divided into five "factions." The back story is that a war destroyed society, and when peace finally came the surviving population identified five traits that potentially caused them to fight one another: selfishness, dishonesty, cowardice, ignorance, and anger/dissension. To prevent another war, they divide the city into six sections, five of which adopt a manifesto while one is filled with those who've been kicked out of their "faction."

The faction that rejects selfishness is named "Abnegation." In their manifesto, they proclaim:
"I will war with others,
If I refuse to see them."

Profound. Simply profound. Think of the disagreements in your life. Whether they be within a friendship. Or a business relationship. Or even when evaluating politics. Our disagreements arise when we sit opposite someone who sees things through a different lens. Those who share our beliefs, preferences, politics, and opinions don't agitate us. We find a connection and sense of belonging when we discover common ground.

Does holding an opposite view require discord? No. Whether it be on the scale of my honey and I debating a social issue or two countries going to war, the reason for discord isn't disagreement. It's the failure to see the other person. It's circumscribing the other person, ideology, religion, or point of view through a backward lens.

We don't see without the filter of our own perspective, and that casts a shadow over so much of what we're trying to see. If, instead, we flip the lens to look at others without the constraints we believe people live within, we open ourselves to a deeper understanding of others. And a deeper understanding allows us to see them.

If we refuse to see them,
we will war with them.