One of my favorite lines in a Grateful Dead song comes from the tune, Scarlet Begonias.
“Once in a while you can get shown the light,
In the strangest of places if you look at it right.”
This has been true for me. All that it sometimes takes to see a previously hidden truth is my own willingness to look at the subject a different way.
This act of taking another look at something is what is colloquially referred to as ”open-mindedness”. I find a lot of people are afraid of this term. I find they are afraid of it because they misunderstand it. Being ”open-minded” doesn’t mean abandoning anchors of belief, or intellectual boundaries, putting you in danger that your brain will fall out. It means accepting the possibility that there may be more than one valid viewpoint to a particular issue.
Ideally, this would be a universally applied truth. But, before any truth can be applied, it must first be known. Here then, is my attempt to say,
”Hey, here’s something cool. There’s more than one way to see a lot of issues. Have you tried looking at it from another perspective? Have you tried putting yourself in the other guy’s shoes, for instance?”
A few months ago, I was sitting on the front porch with my seventeen year old. We were discussing a problem he was facing. His ability to solve the problem was limited by two things. One, he had only seventeen years of experience to draw from. Two, this lack of experience forced him in to a very narrow perspective, which blew the problem out of all proportion.
I was sitting in my normal spot on the front porch. It is wide enough to accommodate my frame. He was sitting in a chair to my left. A cloud moved in the sky, the sun peered from behind it, illuminating a perfectly crafted and quite large spider web just as I glanced up to notice it. The web had been there the whole time we had been talking, but I couldn’t see it against the gray overcast. It took the light hitting it just right for it to come into view. What had been real the whole morning, was now real to me.
I asked my son, sitting to my left at the end of the porch and at an acute angle to the web, if he could see it. He shook his head. Interesting, I thought. Nature has provided the perfect metaphor.
”Come look at this,” I said.
He got up, came over a few steps and looked up at the intricate web.
”Wow!” he said. He was amazed by both the intricacy of the web, and that something so large had been completely hidden from view.
All he had to do was look at it right.