For years I looked at prong collars with suspicion and disapproval. I knew they were bad. I looked at the people using them. They weren’t awful people. You could see they meant well. How could they be so wrong about the well being of their dog? Now, I understand that my herm sprenger round tip prong collars are the most brilliant and humane devices I could put on a dog. I would say 90% of the dogs I see in the hood who, from afar, look the happiest, the most engaged with their owner, the loosest and the most easy going, when they get closer to me, I see a prong around their neck. I couldn’t see that before. I couldn’t. Well, I wasn’t looking really. Because I knew. I didn’t have to look.
Am I wrong? Am I right? If I’m a lifelong learner this is something I’m willing to ask every day. Every hour. Consider it, there is something right now, RIGHT NOW, something you’re sure of that is a mistake, a miscalculation, a bundle of assumptions…just…plain… wrong. Sometimes you can go far on wrong, but it always catches you in a million ways, whether you understand the source of the pain or not.
It’s a weird idea for me, because I try so hard to be thorough, SOOOOOOO hard to be honest and to check myself, but every once in a while (this morning actually) I am blindsided with something I didn’t even notice I was dogmatic about. These are great moments. Every time there’s a question, a strategy, an idea and I find out I’m wrong, you know what happens? I get more right. My mind gets healthier, cleaner, leaner. My judgment gets more pure. My vision gets more alert. My decisions get sounder. Best of all, I trust myself more. I can meet others with an open heart because no matter their intentions, style, background, I understand that they may -even accidentally - know some way I got it wrong. I can listen and learn, because I trust myself to opt for truth, wherever it is, whomever the messenger.
Hiding from being wrong, building your identity around being right, around knowing you know, ironically, makes you more and more wrong as the days go on. You spend your life crouched behind a boulder, peeking out only for the things that confirm your biases, shutting down all capacity to grow smarter. You can only enter the stream of life in defense, in accusation, all the time growing heavier with ideas that don’t serve you. Distortion becomes a reflex; you are cut off.
I will be fifty this year. I recently took a very brief look backward on the “sure things” in my life that have been discarded. It was shocking what I supposedly knew. I travel lighter with each decade. Life gets better. I get happier, less fearful. Data bears me out, more and more. But even with all that I’ve learned, I’ll likely get something wrong today. Pretty sure I will. That’s okay. It can’t escape my notice forever.