― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart:
Heart Advice for Difficult Times
"It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything anew,
and in that there is joy.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti
|Bodhidharma by Shokei, 15th Century|
The presumption that we really know what is going on is most often only just that. It's a presumption. Clung to, it can be patently presumptuous.
This can lead to all sorts of problems.
My first boss, Charlie Winchester, foreman of the maintenance department at a small factory in a small town north of Chicago had a decidedly less delicate way of making the point. The memory brings a smile and warm glow to my heart.
I started working at that factory as a high school sophomore in the summer of 1962. A working class kid, I had come of age. Dutifully eschewing summer days splashing in the local lake, I needed to get serious and start saving money for the college education that would propel me up a notch in status, if not in income, as a public school teacher.
In those days, like many of us, I was able to get a relatively good paying union job for the summer at the factory where my dad worked. Although I began as a stock handler on one of the assembly lines, I was soon able to transfer to the maintenance department where my tasks ranged from mowing the extensive grounds to learning how to fix things. Although it was often noisy, dirty, and sometimes even dangerous, I loved it.
My boss, Charlie, was a kind and able mentor. That spirit pervaded the maintenance crew and during the seven summers I worked there, I learned a lot about how things work on many levels.
One particular lesson on the nature of reality that first summer began when Charlie came around the corner to find me standing in front of a simple piece of production machinery gone amuck. Lurching erratically and making tortuous noises after my attempt at repair, it threatened mayhem. The afternoon's production quota now in question, I quickly explained what I had done and why.
With the ever present cigar stub in his mouth, Charlie quickly shut the machine down, then immediately took a pen from his shirt pocket pen holder and wrote the word "ASSUME" on a piece of paper.
"You know what happens when you assume?" he asked.