Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In Plain Sight

“We are too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet.” ~ Author unknown

Early mornings at my house are easily the craziest moments of each day. With two boys - already groggy and irritable from getting up before dawn - having to get ready and out of the door before six-thirty, my house is, in the best of days, the proverbial zoo. Books are stuffed in school bags at the last minute, coats become invisible, and at least one of four shoes is always seemingly stolen by a hungry troll in the middle of the night.

Yesterday morning was one of those mornings. No matter how many sermons I preach the night before, rare is the day when everything is in place and ready to go. At six twenty-five, less than five minutes before the bus was ready to show up at the bus stop, my younger son announced that the shoe troll had visited again. The mad search against time began, and we spent the next few minutes running from room to room, our eyes robotically scanning all floor surfaces for a pair of white sneakers.

The kids searched downstairs and I covered the two floors upstairs, all the while tuning everything else out that wasn’t white or shaped like a shoe. By the time the two boys made it up the stairs to the third floor, I was fuming and darting my eyes from one end to the other of the floor like a mad woman. The moment Michael popped his head into the door, I turned my head and spat out that his shoes weren’t upstairs, venom dripping from the fangs I was about to sink into his not-so-innocent head.

Michael looked at me with big blue eyes, and as he passed me on the stairs he said: “Sure they are mom, they are right there.” I followed him up, and there they were – two big white sneakers sitting in perfect view on a shelf in the bonus room. How had I missed those big old white boats in the middle of an otherwise bold-colored room?

After the boys left and I was able to sit down with a cup of coffee, I thought back about the shoes. They were right in front of me, but I was so blinded by my own irritation and panic at the thought of not finding them on time, that I simply couldn’t see them.

Quite often, what we need is within reach, yet we fail to spot it because rather than focusing on the solution we focus on the problem. In this case, my energy was directed toward barking at the kids for not being organized, and by not seeing the shoes I validated my own irritation. Had I taken a deep breath and looked at the room in its entirety, I wouldn’t have missed them, but instead, I allowed my own perception of where shoes should normally be to dictate the scope of my search. The fact that I could use the repeat offense to make a point was definitely an added bonus.

If we could detach from the problem for just a moment, instead than clinging to it to validate or prove a point, we could fine tune our focus and direct it toward a possible solution.

There is no reason why we should look for hard ways to fix something simple.

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