Observations -VS- Assumptions:
Today’s post was inspired by a brief, fun, exchange with my Cowboy over a peach in our fridge. I love peaches, but often I have purchased them when they looked, smelled, and felt just right only to discover they were not juicy and were tasteless. Last week, I took the plunge once more. While grocery shopping, I bought three small peaches without assessing or judging them. I ate one as soon as I arrived home. It was so juicy and delicious that I ate another. I put the third peach in the refrigerator, wanting to save and enjoy it at a later time. Fast forward a few days. Cowboy Tom opens the fridge, sees my peach in its, now, withered, wrinkled condition and says, “Hon, how’s this peach doing?” To which I give a sassy reply, “it’s not quite garbage yet.” Well, I pulled that peach out, today, thinking I would toss it, because it looked dried out, wrinkled, and well beyond delectable. I stopped short of the trash can and thought, “what the heck. Let’s see what’s going on underneath the skin of this wrinkled, old peach.” To my delight, it was juicy! So, I took a bite. It was even more delicious than the first two had been! I shared a bite with my Cowboy who was surprised as well. Rather than merely observing the physical state of the peach, the leap was made to assuming that it no longer had value on the inside. We were wrong.
As humans, we can often allow our observations of one another to turn into assumptions. This can happen at all ages and stages in life. As I mature, I seem to be especially aware of this. Skin, bones, and muscles that have served us well for many years will change with use and age, but we must not assume there is no longer value inside. Interestingly enough, these assumptions are often made by people who have been on the planet for fifty, sixty, seventy years or more. We may retire from a career, but we don’t have to retire from life or accept the assumptions of others that our quality of life is all behind us. Those who know me well, know I don’t do “old talk.” “Old talk” is those conversations surrounding aches, pains, ailments, and wrinkles etc. We are so much more than the sum total of our wrinkles, gray hair, or physical limitations. Inside, we have experience, wisdom, life lessons, and humor just waiting to be shared with and enjoyed by others.
An observation is just visual information. It doesn’t tell us the value a person might add to our lives by sharing their wisdom, experience, or humor. The thing about assumptions is that they can very easily turn into judgement. In that case no one learns, grows, or appreciates.
By not allowing our observations to roll right into assumptions, we open doors to building relationships, learning from the experience of others, and growing our own lives at every age.