Wrinkled retina

I found out a couple of months ago that I have a small wrinkle in the retina of my right eye. I didn’t notice anything … just kept changing my answers to the optometrist’s question, “Which is more clear … this one … or this one?” No need to do anything about it … I can live with it for another 40 or 50 years. I figure by that time the rest of me will be just as wrinkled.

It got me thinking … how do the wrinkles in our belief systems distort our views of life, others, our experiences, our decisions, our teaching? As a marriage and family therapist, I used the analogy of the window screen. When we look through our screen some of the holes are filled in, causing a distorted view. Some of us have more spaces filled in than others; some have entire sections of the screen blocked out; we all have different combinations of spaces blocked. So everyone’s perception of reality is different. Always a source of conflict … another topic for  a later date.

Credit: diongillard

As educators, how do we ensure that the crusty parts of our screens aren’t impairing our decision-making, especially regarding what’s best for our students? First and foremost, we have to work hard at identifying our blind spots. Next, acknowledge those biases and begin to reframe the distortions – move a little to see through the screen from a different angle. Last, we must reflect on how our wrinkled reality affects our decisions – and how those decisions are affecting others. It takes a commitment and some real thought to minimize the impact of our distortions on other people. We have to see past our wrinkles … and other’s wrinkles … to figure out what’s best. KEY: Keep focusing on what’s best.

My goal for the next 40-50 years: get as wrinkled as I can … those wrinkles are my life medals. I think I might even name each wrinkle – this will help me reflect on its impact on my perceptions and continue to increase clarity of thought and action. The result … better and better choices – for me – my loved ones – my students – and my colleagues. Last, in my most wrinkled times I want to be walking on the beach where the air is clear and the horizon is still unreachable. In the meantime, my screens will be getting regular cleanings.

Credit: uyen.tran - Sisters walking on the beach

Oh, and don’t forget … wrinkles and risk-taking are not mutually exclusive. Keep pushing the limits! Don’t let your wrinkles slow you down.

Credit: kamshots

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