The Wisdom of the Things We Dismiss

Here's something I've come to understand. Reluctantly. 

The things we dismiss can be some of our greatest teachers. 

The man asking for spare change on the corner. The suggestion I react to with a door-slammingly, "Absolutely not!" The customer service representatives, tech support agents, billing department staff. The idea I immediately decide won't work.

I have dismissed all this. And what is dismissal, after all, but a pushing away? No, I effectively say, don't discomfort my way of being, thinking, doing. 

Not always, but often, what I dismiss are the carriers of a wisdom I am being asked to learn. A wisdom only available if I risk not pushing it away, but staying with it for a bit. 

I got a huge, bold idea the other day. Rather than reject it out of hand, I sat with it for a bit. And the longer I sat with it, the longer I saw paths forward with it. 

I walked by a man asking for money. I don't have change anyway, I told myself. But I do have an orange, I realized. I turned to him. Do you want an orange? Sure, he said and smiled a little. I handed him an orange. It was no miracle. It was humans sharing a moment. But surely, that's not worth dismissing. 

Wisdom doesn't show up one day in the mail, easily openable and ready to use. Wisdom often comes to us through the things that interfere with our comfort - be it an untamed, untethered idea, the person who drives us bananas, or a sunset begging us to stop our productive rush, rush and just watch it. 

Another way I like to approach it is in the moment I'm about to dismiss someone or something, I instead think: So you are my teacher today. What am I being asked to learn from you? 

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