by Sara Luther
with all due respect...

The skunk wasn’t dead

We wake and enter the world each day.  We go about our lives, our work, our relationships, and we do so from a place of our lived experiences, our values and many other influencers that create our respective lens.  Through those lenses we perceive, we create perceptions and they subsequently impact our actions and our inactions, or our practices and patterns.

All of that is true, it’s what we do as human beings. Changing our lens happens subconsciously and yet it must also grab our intentional consciousness.  Why? Because our assumptions are often wrong, or at least misguided, and we perpetuate what we actually need to dismantle.

This is something I need to relearn and be reminded of, otherwise I can look anyone and anything up and down and, in a nano second, write the story, react to it, respond to it…or just walk away.  How about you?

  • What assumptions do you tend to leap to – about that boss, team, co-worker, process, meeting you weren’t invited to, promotions?
  • Do you know when you’re in that ‘I’m making shit up about this’ space?
  • Can you acknowledge it afterwards?
  • Do you retrace your steps to assumption-world and examine what needs to be reconstructed?

I hope there were some yes’s to those questions.  Because, in my professional and personal experiences, I see our assumptions either taking us to unnecessary dark places of fear, anxiety and stress.  Or they keep us in Lalaland where we refuse to see difficult things that will jolt us out of our leave-it-to-beaver experiences.

I’m wondering, if we could just learn to pause throughout our days and take stock of what assumptions may be slipping in. Then, at least we can choose to calm those voices and seek something more real. That way, when we feel stress or bliss, we have the choice to act or not act, but at least it will be connected to something more truthful.

You’ve read this far and you’re probably still wondering, why the title? What’s with the skunk?

I was on a walk and came across a skunk that had been hit. Her body was intact, no blood or disembodiment.  She was laying on the outside line of the busy street with cars zipping by.  There were  many road cyclists turning a corner and passing her.  Then, there was me, on my walk. I stopped and thought I’d call the City so that they could come and collect her; however, in stopping my assumptions were eliminated and quickly replaced by reality when she lifted her head and I realized that she was not in fact dead.  Now, my heart broke.  I became emotional with the City employee and then I realized that no one else, not the drivers, not the cyclists knew that she was alive. Why? They assumed, as did I, that she was dead.  The difference is, I stopped and they didn’t.  To them, her being dead didn’t provoke any need to act. There was no response required.  They could continue on with their day – uninterrupted.  My small act of stopping gave me pause and allowed me to be present to what actually was.  It would have been easier for me if she had been dead.  I would have felt sad, but I would not have been heart broken. Yet, I knew I would rather deal with the truth and have my actions/reactions come from what was real and not simply assumed.

So, I ask you to pause today.

Check-in with yourself about what you are making up about what and who is around you. This version of the story you are creating based on your assumptions is probably only partly true – at best.  With the pause you have the chance to see what really is.  When you see what really is, your responses have the chance to be informed and guided.