Sunday, October 6, 2013

Not Zen 79: Act in Context

Two women sat beneath an awning in the rain.  In front of them, a young man in the street gave up his taxi to an older woman.  The fellow had to wait in the rain for a minute until he got another ride.

"I wonder if this is the last time in my life I'll see that," said the older woman.  She started doing the math in her head and guessed it had been nearly twenty years since she'd witnessed a similar scene.

The younger woman laughed. 

"Don't be silly," she said.  "You've got decades to live.  That sort of thing happens all the time."

"You're still young and pretty," said her friend.  "Maybe it happens to you but I'll bet that usually the men usually would rather ride in the taxi with you."

"Usually, yes."

"When you're older, you have a more complete sense of the context.  Have I tried to explain this before?  When you're young, you might hear about an office worker leaving her job because her superiors are unethical but it doesn't make an impression.  You don't understand how rare it is.  Later, you hear a similar story.  This time, you remember it because you've worked for a while.  You know a little.  But you don't have kids, so you still don't have the full context.

"Years later, when you're older and you're the family's sole source of income, you hear a similar account.  Now you have a much more complete sense of what happened.  The story seems so amazing that you almost can't believe it.  You can't believe someone would leave a good position simply because the upper management was corrupt.  You want to look for hidden reasons."

The younger one folded her arms and chuckled

"The first time you tried to make this point," she said, "was when you described pearl diving."

"What did I tell you?"

"That when a young diver discovers a perfect pearl, she takes it for granted.  She doesn't know the pearl is rare.  It's only when she's older that she realizes that the perfection she saw early on was a once-in-a-lifetime event."

"Maybe that's a better example."

"This feels like the hundredth time you've tried to tell me.  But it's the first time that I feel you might be right."

The older women nodded.  "You're finally building up enough context."

No comments:

Post a Comment