Friday, June 22, 2007

Musings on a sore toe

Good day, everyone.

I’ve had, since Sunday, what appeared to be a broken toe. No flashy injury – just something that seemed to progress in level of pain each day that I, as the typical man in charge of my own destiny (translation: too stubborn to go into a hospital unless carried in) firmly resolved to work through. I mentioned to my wife the other day that the lowly toe is not even something you pay attention to or are necessarily aware of the importance of until you have a situation where you can’t walk on it – then you notice that it’s there and it’s important.

After I made that observation, it got me to thinking about a lot of other things that are important but go unnoticed in our daily high-speed lives. Things like:

1. the amazing amount of knowledge and learning that surround us in unlimited quantity, but for which we never quite seem to find the time to absorb
2. opportunities to help those around us in need every day
3. reasons to be grateful for everything we have, no matter how small
4. friends who seem to call at the right time to see how we are doing and how much we should really appreciate them
5. children who can erase a challenging day when you return home with a simple “Daddy’s (or Mommy’s) home”, followed by a big hug
6. friends who offer timely advice just when you need to hear it, such as when one member of this list sent me a powerful email the other day contrasting “living to work” versus “working to live”
7. spiritual guidance, for those who seek spiritual influence in their lives
8. the notion of how really miraculous every breath is that each of us takes or the miracle of each beat of our heart (our heart, on average beats almost 104,000 beats a day – that’s 37,960,000 beats a year and 2,733,120,000 beats in an average 72 year life span – try buying a mechanical device that can deliver that!)
9. the miracle of every interaction between two people, whether face to face or using technology of some kind – and whether you are agreeing or fight vehemently
10. the amazing organized chaos that is our universe, which, when you look at the seeming chaos that it appears to be, is actually a VERY finely tuned machine. Take a moment when you have a chance, plop yourself down in the middle of a place filled with activity and observe the organization that underlies the seeming randomness
11. the notion that if our work were simple, we should be paid much less, so difficult work is something to be grateful for
12. the wonder of our respective lineages and cultures and the wonderful insight that this brings to our perception of ourselves and our world.

There is a great book written by Gerald Weinberg titled “Are Your Lights On”. The title originates from a story in Europe where tunnel engineers wanted to erect a sign for drivers as they exited a tunnel, reminding them that their headlights were still on. They tried various combinations of signs that in essence read “If your lights are on and you didn’t want them on, turn them off – if your lights are on and you wanted them on, leave them on” etc. The challenge was that people were driving off the road reading the complex sign. In the end, the engineers realized that to help people solve problems, you don’t tell them what to do – you just remind them of the problem and they can solve it for themselves, hence the sign reading “Are your lights on?”.

So my thought for you today is “Are your lights on?”. Are you taking the time to understand what is really important?

As for my lowly toe, I just checked out of the hospital. It turns out that my kidneys were malfunctioning and the symptoms were manifesting in my feet of all places. So my lowly toe brought a potentially very serious condition to light that is treatable because it was found early.

Little things and things of seeming unimportance in your life are very important – please be alert to all of them.

Take care and be well.


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