Assuming Improves Surprises
Tooling along to work the other morning, I noticed an old, smallish pick-up truck with a well-used kayak atop. Both the truck and its cargo had experienced a lot, with the wear and tear to prove it. The blue vehicle was hard to miss; it travelled 10 miles an hour below the speed limit on a stretch of road where driving the speed limit is considered "poking along." I quickly drew conclusions of what I expected to see when I came up alongside. Surely the driver would be an outdoorsy type, probably of the "environmentalist" ilk, who was close to finding a spot to launch.
From his passenger side, I looked in as I drove by. The old, gray haired man struck me more like a farmer than a kayaker, except he drove a truck instead of a tractor. He looked like the type of man you'd see on a backroad Texas two-lane asphalt stretch where the farmers in their trucks poke along knowing their driving speed will not improve their crops' growing pace, and who look out among the fields as they drive along, half on the road and half on the shoulder. Where the dashboard and windshield came together rested a line of about eight baseballs-some shiny white and some as weathered as the driver and his truck-seemingly totally out of place. He hunched a bit over the steering wheel and looked straight ahead, oblivious to the cars that split behind him like a stream around a big boulder only to reform as lanes of traffic once past him.
I smiled at how wrong I was in my assumption of what sort of character I would see in the truck, and because I then began to contrive stories about the old, slow-driving man with a kayak atop his truck and baseballs on the dashboard in it. It might be said that assuming did make a.....as the old expression goes, but it also opened me up to a great surprise and a curiosity for who this man was, and what his story might be. If I had not expected something so different, I would likely not have been as intrigued by what I saw.
Our assumptions can do that...if we allow ourselves to recognize the wrong paths down which they can lead us, and if we have the curiosity to find out where we really are and who is on the path with us.
Listen to Life is a free ewsletter about learning and getting more from life by paying attention to our own stories and the stories of others, based on the presentations, writings, photography and workshops by Dion McInnis (www.dionmcinnis.com). Copyright 2010 Dion McInnis. All rights reserved.