Friday, November 1, 2019

Insight: The maple and the blindfold

By Lorraine Glowczak

The other day while cleaning the yard and preparing our home for winter, I took a moment to sit on a lawn chair before storing it away. While I sat enjoying the sun’s warmth, watching the leaves tumble to the ground – one maple tree in the backyard caught my eye.

The limbs seemed to be holding on to the last rays of fall, keeping its golden foliage as long as it can before it must succumb to nature. The beauty of it all created a quick passing thought to climb that maple and to see our yard from the tree’s perspective. But since that would have required me to get up from the chair, I stayed put and imagined it instead. But now – I wish I would have gone for it.

So, what does one do when they don’t have personal experience to recall on their own? They “Google” it to live vicariously through others, of course.

In a article written by Ailsa Sachdev, she shared what she had learned when she interviewed a master tree-climbing instructor, Tom Kovar. Kovar has lead climbing adventures and has climbed trees all over the world, creating many years of experience seeing life from a tree’s perspective. When Sachdev asked Kovar what one can see from treetops that could never be seen from the ground, his reply was:

“I had one example of taking a guy tree-climbing in the Amazon — a local community member, probably in his early 60s….asked if he [could climb with me]. He'd lived there his whole life. He got up maybe 30 feet or so and started looking around, and I saw tears well up in his eyes. I could tell he was having a good time, but something deeply emotional touched him. The translator told me as he came down that the man thought he knew the jungle; he could walk along all the trails blindfolded, no problem. But when he got up in the tree, maybe forty feet or so, and looked around the forest, he saw his home from a different perspective, and he had no idea where he actually lived.”

When working closely with others, we are often told and have read that considering other viewpoints can help us work collaboratively together, assist us when dealing with controversy, and can contribute to our personal and professional successes. But how often do we take the moment to step outside of our everyday routines to see a part of life we often ignore (or don’t even notice)?

Much like the man from the Amazon, we can easily perform our daily tasks wearing blindfolds because they have become second nature, so to speak. In doing so, I wonder how much we miss as we go about our daily lives. Is it possible we become so focused on the tasks at hand, not giving much thought to stepping out of our comfortable routines that we miss some pretty amazing things along the way? I think it is possible that I do.

So, perhaps next Saturday I will climb that tree and experience what it sees every day. But knowing how clumsy I can be most days, it’s possible next week’s Insight might be entitled, “An easier way to gain a different viewpoint without breaking an arm.”

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