Thursday, September 22, 2011
Things have been a bit hectic this last month as I dove head-first into doctoral studies. The first few weeks were filled with so many meetings and events and orientations and administrative 'stuff' that had to be completed that it left me feeling a bit tossed about and slightly nauseous. In the midst of all that hurricane activity on the sea of learning, I was given 4 days to complete a huuuuuuge funding application. I managed it, but I am not sure how brilliant and put-together it was. Now I am in the middle of two more very large applications and have a flurry of parties to attend on the weekend. This whirlwind of activity has brought me to face to face with the issue of schedules.
With Dean's help (and the Holy Spirit), I have now put one in place that should better manage all the classes, teaching responsibilities, reading, writing, and surprise tasks that are part of my workload, as well as leave space for living life as a normal human being who is an engaged member of a marriage, friendships, and a faith community. Now I just have to be faithful to keep putting it into action!
The other schedule that was giving me a bit of trouble was my bus. I missed it a few times and it was annoying. The bus that runs through my neighbourhood is notorious for being a bit on the early side, but on one occasion when I missed it, I saw it roll past my window a full 6 minutes before it was due. How do you make that work for you? Sigh! Since my bus only comes every 30 minutes (except during peak times), missing it can make me quite late to wherever I am going. I got in the habit of being at the bus stop 10 minutes early, just to make sure I would catch it, but honestly, I was getting a bit frustrated at how unpredictable it was - it was starting to damage my calm (as Jayne from Serenity would say).
About a week ago I had the brilliant idea of checking out the public transit website and looking at the bus schedule. To my dismay and utter delight, I found a new, updated bus schedule with new times listed, which were (yes, you guessed it) adjusted 5 or 6 minutes here and there. Aha! So it wasn't the evil bus demon out to get me! I just had out-of-date information! Sometimes current and accurate information can be your best friend! This made me think about other places in my life that seem randomly filled with havoc and bad luck, and I wonder if I just haven't taken the time to get the information I need to make sense of it and to respond appropriately.
Last night in class we were discussing the concept of 'naive realism' (see Lonergan`s Method in Theology for an fuller explanation, p. 238-240). This is basically when one supposes that seeing is knowing. A person bases judgments and decisions on knowledge gleaned from associations that have never been evaluated. One example is: because my father always did it this way, it is the right way. Or, because I saw it on television or read it in a book, it is true. Or, because this has been the bus schedule like, forever, it is valid today. This is shortcut living - a method that children use to learn in their early years, and certainly useful for basic everyday tasks. But if extrapolated to the meaningful and larger issues of life, eventually it can breed a close-minded, one-track way of thinking that fails to see creative and innovative solutions and rejects valuable relationships or associations because they are outside of the norm.
Yes, it is difficult to make the effort to step outside of one's presuppositions and snap assumptions and take a long, hard look at familiar thoughts and contexts to see if they are indeed as airtight as I suppose. It takes courage, but I am living proof that more accurate, well-rounded information, processed in a thoughtful way, will be helpful to one's life in the long run. And, you won't miss the bus as often!
The photo: St. Andrews, NB. This place always makes me forget about schedules of any kind.