Wednesday, December 26, 2012
WHAT IS “WISE” ABOUT CONVENTIONAL WISDOM?
Important life-lessons can be learned when we take the time to watch the little things that happen around us. Reflecting upon the summer dreams that flirt through my mind as I experience another Christmas without snow, I thought about the “yellow ski boat” that terrorized our quiet bay every weekend – its owners greeting the dawn and saying goodnight to the dusk throughout the summer. As it patiently waited to escape from the lake, a faded green speedboat fitted with a trolling motor and multiple fishing poles slipped quietly into the water as its replacement. A camouflage flat bottom boat awaits its entry into the water as a fleet seemed ready to slip away. Different strokes for different folks, I guess, but all part of an ongoing continuum. It seems that only when one recognizes much can come from seeking a different reality than that chosen by the crowd will he or she begin to realize that individual loss can become another’s gain…one’s beginning can be another’s end…that as dreams fade and die for one they can come alive for another. While the Holiday season brings much joy and contentment, far too often the loss individuals experience – be it a spouse, a brother or a parent (as is happening with three of my friends) – weighs heavily upon the minds of those living their own reality during this time of reflection, transition, hope and change.
As I allowed my mind to wander this past weekend, I realized that far too many diminish their potential by following the crowd. They chose to take the easy route – the path of least resistance – and in so doing lose any chance they may have had to establish their individuality. People often suffer in silence rather than identifying and addressing the issue that most concerns them. They do what everyone else does so as not to attract individual attention. Peer pressure drives decisions, a “flock” mentality replacing what was once individuality. Family relationships can be destroyed when pride or misunderstanding are allowed to play out unabated to their natural and destructive ends. If being one of the crowd or accepted by many diminishes one’s ability to be independent and free – if doing “as is expected” creates a self-limiting dungeon rather than a land of opportunity and choice – then perhaps there is a better way to go.
Saying “no” to conventional wisdom often establishes one’s own hopes, dreams and realities. Had Fulton listened to conventional wisdom would he have invented the steam engine? Had Edison listened to conventional wisdom would he have harnessed electricity? Had the Wright brothers listened to conventional wisdom would they have pioneered flight? What might YOU be able to accomplish – what potential might you be able to realize – if you refuse to listen to conventional wisdom, choosing instead to chart a path based on independent thoughts and aspirations?
I find in reflection that I might be more apt to celebrate with those who remained on the lake this past fall, joining me as I refused to accept the conventional wisdom that summer had ended – and in doing so, accepting that there is wisdom far beyond the conventional! (Now, if only such unconventional wisdom could create snow – if even for a week or two – our winter wonderland would be complete!)