#9 Sometimes, the path we need to take doesn’t look like a path at all.
I have a confession to make. I’m taking the summer in low gear. Thanks to my Camel’s Hump trek, these thirteen blogs will carry me through to the end of September. I’m not gone; I still show up throughout the week to converse with those of you who stop by and comment (thank you ever so much). I remain eager to hear how these lessons show up in your everyday life.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post:
#9, Sometimes, the path we need to take doesn’t look like a path at all.
For me, this lesson has to do with expectations or assumptions. I thought I knew what a mountain path looked like: dirt, vegetation in places, a few rocks, trees overhead. I’ve been on countless mountain paths. But on my Camel’s Hump descent, I saw that the path I needed to take sometimes didn’t look like my vision of a path at all; it looked like an abandoned river bed (because it was).
It was a good reminder to stay open to challenging my assumptions. An even better reminder to try to stay aware of what assumptions I’m holding.
How often have I missed the proverbial boat because it’s not what I was expecting. Did it float right by me and I didn’t recognize it? How often am I stuck in a particular way of thinking, of being, and miss seeing life in a new and different way.
It was the same on the mountain. When I assumed the path would be a certain way, I risked missing the path as it actually was. Caught up in the dream, I failed to notice the reality.
Fortunately, these thoughts flitted by in a nanosecond and I continued on my way. I’ve dwelt on this one longer here, than I did on the mountain. And that’s fine.
How about you? Do you get in your own way at times too? How do you know when you’re doing it?
[learn_more caption=”Did you miss the earlier posts? If so, here are the links: “] #13 When the going gets tough, each step is of equal importance.
#12 Sometimes, perseverance is more important than having fun.
#11 Sometimes, there is no single, absolutely right place to put your foot
#10 Sometimes, when we try to follow the blazes, it ends in disaster. [/learn_more]
You’ve heard of course that assumption is the mother of all screw-ups, posted on the wall of one of my graduate advisors. Best to keep an open mind.
I hadn’t heard that one, Marian. Mine has been, “expectations can be a set up for disappointment.” I like the “mother of all” part. Very succinct, with a touch of lightness. Thanks.
You’ve nailed it in one, Janet. So many people pass through life totally unaware of what’s passing on either side of them and not really taking notice of the path they are on, it’s changing surface, texture, gradient or overhanging branches, until something trips them up or a branch swipes them in the face.
We rely so much on technology for communication that many of us have lost the ability to speak properly to other people, to share fully what we feel, our impressions and ideas, and how the environment makes us react. Being on a rocky path need not be half way up a mountain, it could equally be an unfamiliar urban setting, a friend’s house, or a new office block. Each can seem like the path on your camel’s hump when the pressure of daily life is on, and were stressed and tired just trying to keep up, or to meet deadlines.
We all need to slow down, look around, absorb the atmosphere of our surroundings, appreciate the company of those who are with us, and understand the nature of variety and difference in everything.
Thanks for that, Ian. I love the imagery in your, “it’s changing surface, texture, gradient or overhanging branches,” Life can offer us such variety, yet we do seem to cling to the familiar. Btw, your camel’s hump has a remarkably similar shape to mine. I’ve added it to the last of the series. Stay tuned.
The reason a gearbox has low ration gears in it is the enable us to go slowly over rough or steep terrain. So why rush all the time?
I can’t think of a particular example, but I’m certain I’ve done this many times. I like Marian’s “assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.”
I guess there is a difference between being prepared or trying to be prepared for events and situations and making an assumption.
Oh indeed there is, Merril. I like to think I plan as best I can, but I let go of the outcome. I do the part I can control, and let go of the part I don’t. See the difference? I actually love to plan, but I don’t assume I know how things will turn out (usually, if I’m paying attention). There are always some sort of unexpected “overhanging branches.”
“Caught up in the dream, I failed to notice the reality.” For me, if I am anywhere except the present moment, I know I missed an experience. Oh, I may have caught the tail end of it, or even its middle but for me, that moment did not unfold in its entirety. Great post. I am enjoying this series, Janet.
Thank you so much, Karen. I take that as high praise, coming from you.
“Caught up in the dream, I failed to notice the reality” certainly resonates for me, Janet. How many times did I create the illusion for myself that it was the right path when in fact the worst possible scenario? Fortunately, mistakes hold valuable lessons and we all live and eventually learn the right path.Love the premise here of challenging assumptions which you have captured through your hiking lessons and Marian has captured in her quote: “assumption is the mother of all screw ups.” Lots to ponder as we move forward. I hope you are enjoying your summer respite. Thanks for sharing!
We so often see what we want to see, hear what we expect to hear , and so on. I chalk it up to human nature and am grateful I survived another “screw up) and move on. You are so right, too: we can learn valuable lessons from our screw ups (why is that not ‘screws up’, as in ‘mothers- in-law’?) Hmmm; you always leave me with new questions to ask. Thanks for dropping by.
And I am very much enjoying the summer. I spent the day digging in the dirt, then watching a (Netflix) movie with my hubs. Very rewarding, and contactful. Thanks for asking.
Joan Z. Rough
I try not to trust my own assumptions or expectations. And I don’t like others to make assumptions about me or have expectations of me. Being human means we can change our minds about things and go off down a different road than we originally chose. I love Marian’s advisor’s words: Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups. How true!!
Oh yes, Joan. I know what you mean. I am really irritated when I find someone holds some broadbased assumption about me, placing me in some category they’ve conconcted. I’m not too bothered by others’ expectations of me (any more). Let go of that one some time ago. The trick though (for me) is to be aware of what they are. Be aware that I’ve made an assumption, aware that I’m holding some expectation. They certainly screwed me royally in Kazakhstan, when I’d convinced myself I didn’t have any. You’re right, we all do it.
From the above discussion about assumptions I conclude that when you assume, you make an ASS out of U before ME. Enough QED!
At the risk of beating the proverbial dead horse, I think it’d be fun to see if we all remember when we first heard that one. I recall mine: it was in a movie I was watching on TV with my kids (could have been a TV show). Anyway, the scene was with a blackboard and the teacher wrote assume on the board, then circled the three parts, giving voice to the never-to-be forgotten words. Ian, do you recall when you first heard this?
I first remember hearing it from my flying instructor, whilst upside down in a Tiger Moth at 6,000 feet, half way round a loop. That was in 1963!
I’ve been developing my proficiency ever since. 🙂
You were assuming you were going to crash? One of my favorite memories of my dad is up with him in a small prop plane he flew over my house; I was six. We didn’t do any upside down maneuvers though.
Nothing so dramatic. I assumed it was normal to wake up upside down at 6,000 feet wearing nothing but a pair of underpants and a yellow Labrador! My instructor had a dog who loved flying. My first solo had been the evening before and we’d had a bit of a party that evening. The other students poured me into bed late. In the morning my pals strapped me into the back seat, (a Tiger Moth, in case you’re not familiar, is a two seat, open cockpit biplane dating from 1937) piled my instructor’s dog in on top, and did up the straps. The instructor then took off, climbed up to a nice cold altitude, and started doing aerobatics.
That’s when I woke up and made that assumption.