Preconceptions

Thursday, January 1, 2009

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Today Dr. Weeks and I were talking about preconceptions.  About going into an occasion with a pre-conceived notion of what is supposed to happen.  In fact, when he stepped into my office, he had supposed that I was going to give him the new plum assignment at the Experiment Shed, the one all the faculty members are fighting over (more on that in a moment) and in short, I didn’t.  He was not pleased, and although he is a remarkably composed fellow in most respects, when he’s got his feet—and the feet of his brain—firmly planted in some supposition, as he had here, he can be unpredictable when crossed.  I have rather extensive training in the martial arts, a blending of MA disciplines

that I’ve cultivated though workshops with our own Murray Broderick, not just director of security operations here at the institute, but, like so many here, (even those in service positions,) a gifted teacher. And one willing to barter instruction for the promise of health care benefits.  Anyway, when Dr. Weeks lashed out in his anger and confusion, I was ready to deflect his advance (without preconceptions about what form they might take.)

Turned out he was only advancing on a nearby potted plant, which wasn’t real (the dog chews most real plants if they’re indoor, which I believe is territorial thing, so we switched out to a natural bamboo-fiber based EverPlant as they’re called, artificial only in the sense that it isn’t really a rhododendrum, as it appears to be (they’re made by very skilled craftswomen) but a rhody-shaped piece of art made from, as I mentioned, bamboo.  These things are tough, and Dr. Weeks was really only letting off steam for a brief moment, and by the time I stepped in to strike an exposed nerve position I saw in his shoulder, (a grip-loosening move I am fond of, and which is fairly easy to execute) he had already let go of the plant, so my strike was superfluous.  But taken in good humor by Dr. Weeks.

But why was any of this necessary? Because of his preconception that the Experiment Shed position would go to him.  What if, instead, he had walked into our meeting with a clean, balanced mental and physical state of equilibrium, not “prepared” for any particular thing, but prepared to see and react with equanimity and ease to whatever might happen?  Under those circumstances you are allowing the moment to unfold as it will—which is what it will do whether you have preconceptions about it or not. (And that last part is rather crucial to understand.) When you attempt to manhandle the moment into what your brain (and often body) have already assumed will be—or must be— the case, things don’t go as easily as they otherwise might.  Especially for somebody else near you who is compelled to bring you news you don’t want to hear—in this case, me.

Everybody wants the Chief Administrator position on the upcoming set of Experiment Shed investigations concerning BioInteractivity, (basically a study of how we interact with the living things around us, mostly plants in the case of this particular study—Dr. Weeks, take note! (the “fake” rhododendron might have been “real,” in which case that would have been a very aggressive act towards another living thing)—because… we got a MAJOR GRANT to conduct this study! 

Big news indeed for the Institute in these times of budget tightening.  Thank goodness the Eppincott Foundation understands that BioInteractivity is a subject the study of which is urgent.  And of course, once Dr. Weeks was calm enough to hear the news that he won’t be Chief Administrator on that project not because of some implied ineptitude but because I need him for another highly important undertaking (which must remain undisclosed at this point) he was of course fine with it.

But in the meantime, the natural faux plant in my office took some unnecessary wear and tear due to Dr. Weeks’ preconceptions and his very typical reaction when they were suddenly and forcefully dashed. How much better for the fabric of that finely woven plant-like form—and, perhaps for the fabric of our universe?—if he hadn’t walked in with a set idea of what was going to happen. How is such a state of balanced readiness possible?  That’s one of the things we work on here at the Institute… and a topic for another day.

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Posted by pmaxley on 01/01 at 02:52 AM in (1) Comments

Comments

#1. Posted by Adjunct Adjunct on March 02, 2009

I just have to say that reading this has changed my life forever. I think you folks at the institute are truly The Answer that the Valley - nay - the planet - has been looking at for so very long.

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