Can you see it? Can you NOT?

When you look at that garbanzo bean, ask yourself: Does it or does it not resemble a tiny human butt?

Many people would honestly say they’ve thought that for years. Many others would honestly say they’d never noticed the similarity before – but they do now.

Once you clearly see something, you can never unsee it.

Once you hear something profound, you can never unhear it.

Once you know something in your gut, you can never unknow it.

But, because most of us are determined to stay in our comfort zones, we can choose to bury the sight or sound or knowledge so deep that it’s as if it never impinged on our awareness at all.

And while that may be useful in some ways, I suspect that, for every one instance of genuine value, there are 10 instances where that deliberate burial has negative long-term consequences.

Recently, I’ve been dealing with this unhelpful ignoring in both the professional and personal arenas.

Work-wise, I somehow managed to ignore two of the most important habits that I know make my days more productive and satisfying:

I’m not sure why I got out of these habits over the last couple of weeks, but I am sure doing so created a stretch of crappy days for me. Not only did I not make any progress on my project, but when I got my little chickpea butt back into gear, I found I’d lost all momentum and had forgotten some of the how-to’s of dealing with the tech involved. And I would do this to myself…why?

The personal “can’t unsee” situation I’m dealing with is one that’s in every American’s face right now: the ongoing protests against policy brutality, particularly as directed against people of color. The problem is SO huge, SO pervasive, that it’s unfortunately easy for a lot of white people to become paralyzed, even when they want to support racial justice.

In the big scheme of things, my lack of productivity at work isn’t even close to being in the same league as systemic racism. But they do have one thing in common: I’m no longer at a point where I can not see the damage I’m doing by doing nothing.

Sooner or later, you’ll be faced with another potentially overwhelming situation, either personally or professionally. At those times, do yourself a favor and remember this pithy and powerful advice from Squire Bill Widener (often misattributed to Theodore Roosevelt):

Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.

Don’t pressure yourself by trying to quickly change your work habits – or the world. That’s not possible – but you sure can drive yourself crazy thinking it could or “should” be.

Instead, take some action. Baby-step your way toward a better place. Keep showing up. Eventually you’ll be able to point to actions and outcomes you’re proud of.

And if you’re a white person who’s been wondering what tiny steps you can take toward creating racial justice, I encourage you to check out an organization called Showing Up for Racial Justice. SURJ (which I’d never even heard of until a couple weeks ago) has been active for ten years in the quest for true racial justice, and they have wonderfully actionable tools to share.

Thank you, and that is the end of my one and only hybrid business/political post.

(BTW, thanks to Chris Devers for posting the chickpea/baby butt image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

This entry was posted in commitment, personal power.

2 Responses to Can you see it? Can you NOT?

  1. Marion Patterson says:

    How do you come up with seemingly disparate connections that connect so well? Love it. And, the position to do what you can as you can.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen Mavity says:

      Thanks, Marion. I’m pretty sure that the connections are one of the rare upsides to approaching life from a perspective of SQUIRREL!! 🙂

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