Monday, March 19, 2012

Staring at Lines...Worrying Life Away

Driving down the interstate next time, look at that solid white line along the side of the road.  How many feet do you think there are between that line and the guardrail? It doesn't seem like that much room to me.  Then there are those "rumble strips" that caution us to stay away from the edge so we don't cross over the embankment and plummet to the bottom of the hill!

Perception.  It's a strange thing.  Through attitudes, views and understanding, our perception can change.  Sometimes our perception is even manipulated or skewed - kind of like those optical illusions or eye tricks. Everyone has a perception.

Reality.  Not an obscure thing like perception, but defined as "the quality or state of being actual or true."  This is the way things really are, not the way we interpret or perceive them to be.

Back to the interstate and the white line.  Daryl and I were headed to Bozeman one weekend when it started snowing.  In Montana, we have excellent winter maintenance crews that drive mammoth snowplows across miles of interstate to keep our roads cleared for safe driving.  So, here we were, driving down the interstate when we came upon a couple snowplow drivers, diligently doing their job.  Much to my surprise, one of them was driving on the right side of the WHITE LINE!  Evidently, he was pushing the small ridge of snow completely off the interstate.  But, that is not what caught my attention.  How in the world was this gigantic piece of equipment fitting inside that line without running off the road?!?  My perception had always been that the area of space between the white line and the edge was quite narrow.  This totally blew my perception of this out of the water!  That space had to be huge - even though it appeared narrow to me.  My perception was NOT based on reality.

"Perception is Reality"

I read these words in the title of a magazine article years ago and clipped them out because they caused me to think twice.  We know what perception is.  But do we really know what reality is or do we perceive things and assume that is reality?  Now, I don't mean this in a philosophical way.  I'm not trying to answer some vague, yet deep-sounding question.  On this day, the day of the "snowplow surprise" I had an epiphany: I may be perceiving things wrong and worrying about nothing!  I began to wonder how many times I'd worried over...nothing. Reality is generally much less stressful.  Worrying always exaggerates.  Because I've always been a "draw inside the lines" kind of girl, my "drive inside the lines" was a much stronger urge since I saw that the stakes were much higher.  Poor Daryl.  All those years I thought we were going to cascade down to our deaths as soon as I heard the rumble strips hum, when in reality, it's just another unofficial lane of the highway!  I would jump awake in the vehicle due to the rumbling under the tire, he'd just tell me, "I'm just putting ALL my tax dollars to use."

Perception is Reality?  No. It's not. Yet, if we believe that it is, then what's the difference? So,  it is truly important to learn what is true (reality) in everything because we are going to live and think, react and feel, according to what we perceive is real.  Better that we base our perceptions on the truth!  How many times in my life have I worried about the "narrow edge" of something, imagining I could plunge into a heaping crash, when in reality, I had room to move.  Room as huge as a snowplow!

 You can worry yourself to death, but you can't worry yourself to life.

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