Thursday, August 02, 2007

8 random things

My friend earthbound spirit tagged me for this meme. I have been shamefully late in responding. My apologies.

For those who might be interested, here's 8 random things about me.

1. My golf game has much improved this summer. My wife and I played "best ball" (where each of us hits the ball from one location and we play the better of the two shots), and we golfed a 38. This may have little meaning to a non-golfer, but par is 36. We shot a double bogey on the first hole (two over par), a bogey on the second (one over part), and then six straight pars before finishing with a birdie (one under par). Never in my life did I think I'd shoot a round under 40, playing best ball or not. This makes me happy.

2. The only thing that is missing from my golf happiness right now is that my older brother (who is living in Japan with his family) isn't coming home this summer. We have something of a golf rivalry going.

3. I'm definitely a "work to live" kind of guy, although I generally enjoy my job.

4. I'm regularly flooded by requests for money from all kinds of liberal causes nowadays. I think it started when I decided to make regular donations to the DNC. Ah, learning experiences from the Department of Unintended Consequences....

5. I'm currently planning a winter trip to Las Vegas with my wife, my wife's twin sister, my sister (and her husband), and two of my very good friends from college. We plan to golf, see a show, and hang out. Spending time with such good people (and getting away from the cold of the Midwest in January) seems much like heaven.

6. I think I learn as much from my patients as they learn from me. Perhaps more.

7. I believe I've learned as much about God from Eastern writings and philosophies as I have from Western ones.

8. I'm really very excited about the upcoming release of Stephen R. Donaldson's new book in the "Thomas Covenant" saga. I read the first book when I was like in the sixth grade. At Boy Scout Camp (don't get me started on my feelings towards that particular organization...). He's a genius, though for a variety of reasons I don't think those particular books will ever be translated into movies, etc.

"the big picture"

For whatever reason, I found myself giving a lot of "big picture" comments at work recently. To a mother who feels that her entire family mistreats her, I pointed out that she spends her entire time at home either avoiding her family or in conflict with them (i.e., so that in the "big picture" their behavior might be a reaction to the fact that they only see a critical side of her). By focusing solely on the injustices of each particular situation, she was missing that bigger picture, was failing to see how her actions contributed to the difficulties at home.

I hope that this kind of advice is helpful. But I must admit that I find such reflections to also be a bit humbling. It forces me to reflect on how I must sometimes miss that "big picture" as well, be it with my kids, my wife, my clients. Which I know is partly just being human.

Still, I find myself thinking about how easy it is to set aside feedback we receive, perhaps especially negative or critical feedback. It's message is difficult to hear, and certainly such feedback is not always entirely true (occasionally not true at all). Still, I wonder how often we disregard truths about ourselves out of convenience, out of fear, or out of some effort to protect our ego. How often I do that.

Such clues are perhaps often our earliest and best warning signs that we're missing the big picture in some important sense. I pray that I might become more aware of such signals, more willing to contemplate them, more willing to listen to whatever call to change might stem from them. That, I think, is strength. And wisdom.