Saturday, January 23, 2021

Looking At as Much as Through

Reflection on tinted glass.
  Eight years ago over a decade stint as a healthcare chaplain came to a close. Two  
  months of accumulated PTO (paid time off) provided me opportunity to dream 
  about and imagine the future. It was a time of introspection, anxiety, and  
  navigating the bureaucracy of a denominational organization.  As a few weeks  
  passed I became more future focused. What was going to be the next setting for  
  my work life?

  While discussing my situation with a fellow runner, I got a lead on a part-time,  
  income producing job. Part-time appealed to me as I had not settled on my 
  future endeavors. Following a couple of meetings to discuss the part-time activity,     I became a window washing trainee with Wagner Window Cleaning of Fargo ND. Scott was a patient and/or desperate boss. Over time my skills, as well as my speed improved. Early morning sunrises in moderate temperatures while working alone made it the greatest job around! Winter darkness in ten degree air temperatures, dodging cars coming through the drive-up lane made me question my sanity. A phrase Scott used as instruction and correction on numerous occasions, "Do not look through the glass. Look at the glass." continues to echo in my mind. 

Future is a powerful concept! It is a motivation to get out of bed and live another day. A definition of hope which I embrace is, "the expectation of a good yet to come." Thus the focus is upon what lies ahead in the next hour, day, week, and year. We look through the current moment toward what is yet to come. It is a human construct with a powerful purpose. And like all human designs it is multifaceted. 

Continually "looking through" is powerful in providing a focus for our plans and energies. Yet as we set our vision and dreams forward we neglect living in the present. Scott, while desiring speed and efficiency on the job which translated into greater monetary returns, also wanted clean windows. Neglecting to look at the glass and not simply looking, but investigating from different angles, left spots, streaks, and sometimes significant untouched dirty areas. This type of work was not acceptable. It had to be redone in order for the job to be complete.

My bathroom mirror is not future oriented. I cannot see through it, yet I resist looking at it. It is not to avoid
the water spots from overzealous washing nor the white specks from vigorous teeth brushing. It is to avoid looking at myself. What holds true for window cleaning holds true for my life. I need to look at my current situation from a variety of vantage points. I need to see and own the spots, streaks, and cloudy areas of my life. As Socrates, time honored statements says, "An unexamined life is not worth living." Neglecting to live in the present, examining my inner-self translates into the job of living fully as incomplete. 

As a society we keep looking through current events and a mirage of a better future. We focus on the end of the pandemic. Does "return to normal" sound familiar? Yet returning is spoken of in the future. We predict economic recovery and prosperity. We look through present realities in order to avoid pain, grief, and the 
Paramount Sports
looking through the window
reality of crumbling human relationships. As much as I wanted to provide excellence 
in washing windows, quickly moving out of the frigid conditions that made my fingers throb with pain, if I did not focus on my current situation I would return and repeat it all over. 

I am in a life setting where I have ample time. The constraints of job, advancement, and family are lessened significantly. Yet I cringe at looking from various vantage points at my daily life. I make activities or appointments to move through the day or week in order to avoid the unscheduled present. I question my usefulness when I verbalize and internalize that I have no plans for the day. Yet there is a developing sense of acceptance. It comes slowly as I look at myself. I still have value, sanity, and usefulness. It is in enfolding what I see today that guides me into the future. Speed and efficiency in developing self and meaning cannot happen, in my opinion. I deeply and sincerely believe there is good yet to come. However, I do not want to miss the reality which includes discovery and serenity today.

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