Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Going with the Flow

Rocking Chairs at Historic Poole Forge
"If you stand in the same river for too long, even the banks will trickle past you." ~ Colum McCann

This one takes some thought. We could take it literally, but then the notion of the banks moving becomes surreal, like a dream sequence created by Salvidor Dali. That's artistically intriguing but it doesn't get us anywhere. What does it say about a person when they're so attached to one way of thinking, one way of being, that everything around them can move on and they don't even take notice?

The image that immediately comes to mind is geriatric. The old geezer sitting on the porch in his rocking chair, muttering how things were different "back in the day." Yet, I've known many older adults who were forward thinking and far too many young ones who were old before their time. Stereotypes don't apply here.

Nor do assumptions, but we make plenty of them. And not only about age. We do it with gender, race, and just about anything else you can think of. It's that mental short-hand based on familiarity and it gives us a feeling of control. But it can also be like strapping concrete overshoes onto the feet of the person in the river. Even when they'd like to move, they're rooted where they stand.

In a sense, it's as much about facilitating growth as experiencing it. Bracketing assumptions and allowing people to be themselves paradoxically liberates everyone concerned. It not only allows them to follow the flow, it gets us moving as well. It's all too easy to point out how someone else is stuck, when we're not going anywhere either.


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