I’ve always been a detail person. Perhaps it has been a condition of being near-sighted. My art teacher was amazed at the detail of a drawing I did in middle school. We were taken outside to sketch. While my classmates were fixated on the sky, look of the buildings and towering trees, I was drawing a dandelion that was right there between my feet. It has been thus most of my life. Working in research, being attentive to the small changes resulted in significant contributuions. It allowed me to be able to visualize and draw blood from extrememly small veins and make precise injections. And in a way it held me back from making leaps off cliffs or attempting to step on clouds. My role for many years was that of the cautioner, Jimminy Cricket. I was the worst case scenario person warning of pitfalls. For that reason I personally didn’t make many missteps. There have been times when I’ve been challenged to see the “Big Picture” as an excuse by higher ups to undertake dubious assignments. I’m happy to say that I was able to avoid compromising my values.
As an organized person, I’ve always been more comfortable with a plan. I’ve got a plan for this week, next week, next summer, and the 5-year plan. I’m finding however that I need to look beyond my plan. I have to consider how my plan meshes with the plans of others. Not everyone shares my point of view or my vision for the future. As a Christian I am asked to look beyond my needs and consider the needs of others. Living outside the self and living for something else is a pretty frightening concept. With age is supposed to come wisdom. But I’m finding age reduces my flexibility. I’m set in my ways and I’m becoming resistant to change. Instead of an opening outward I’ve seen myself curl inward. I look for the horizon but my focus is not much beyond the tip of my nose.
The time of social isolation additionally narrowed my vision. I didn’t have much interaction with the larger community. There was an invisible barrier between my world and the rest of the world. Yes, it was a privilege to be able to afford to shelter in place for weeks on end, to have the means and monies to meet financial obligations, and to feel safe in my own home. I acknowledge that I am fortunate and more fortunate than most of the world. The harping and moaning about minor inconveniences makes most of us look like spoiled brats to those whose very existence hangs by a thread. How will we be remembered in the history books? What is the legacy we leave behind? How will we be judged by future generations? These are the questions that loom when you look beyond the self, beyond the individual, beyond vanity. These are questions I can’t answer. In light of the inequality in America I am now aware that change must occur and that change needs my active participation. I can do something. I can educate myself about race, white privilege, and social justice. Perhaps if we all looked beyond our own self interests we could change EVERYTHING!