Monday, September 19, 2011

something happens and then we talk about it....

One of the distinctions in the Making a Difference Workshop that I help lead is the distinction between the domain of 'presence' and the domain of 'representation'.

The easiest way to make the distinction is to remind people that 'something happens' and then we 'talk about it'. On the most basic level, most anyone would agree that of course, what we say about something that happened is different--distinct--from 'what happened'.

Think again, beloved. The reality is that we collapse the two domains and live in the collapse. For example, take the current political climate in our country--some event happens...the unemployment rate goes up, let's say: what Barack Obama says about that will have something to do with raising taxes on the wealthy and providing a stimulus plan. John Boener will say government spending and regulations need to be curbed back. And both of them will be convinced that 'what they say about what happened' is TRULY 'what happened'!

Also, consider how, if four people witness a car accident, you will get four different stories about 'what happened' and each will be convinced their story is True and the others not....

Or take what happened to me this morning while walking the dog on the Canal. As Bela was sniffing around, an older man passed us. I spoke to him and he didn't reply so I said to myself he was an odd person. After he was 20 feet or so ahead of us, he stopped in his tracks in the middle of the canal path. He didn't move when a girl on a bicycle came perilously close to him. Instead he stood stock still and stared. By now I have said to myself that his oddness may be dangerous. He seemed unhinged, deranged. I considered not approaching him. I almost told a woman pushing a baby carriage to watch out for him.

When I drew near, being cautious, ready to loose the dog on him or run if his twisted mind caused him to attack me.

About 5 feet away, I noticed he had hearing aids the size of outboard motors on. He turned to me, smiled, and said "Ducks."

So, what happened is this: the man passed me without speaking and then stopped to watch the ducks. And I had 'talked about what happened' in my head to such an extent that I had him a potential mass murderer.

We always live in the collapse between 'what happened' and 'what we said about it'--the challenge is to 'notice' when it happens and try to make the distinction between the two domains: the event and our evaluation, judgement, story, explanation, etc.

My deranged killer was, instead, hard of hearing and enamored of ducks.

Something to ponder in your life beneath your own Castor Oil Tree....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.