The Wisdom Of A Practical Man
I’ve been influenced by many people over the years. This is a story of one of those people that influenced me the most.
As a young naive apprentice, I had the benefit in my training of the wisdom of a practical man and master of his craft.
“Assumption is the mother and father of all fuckups young man”, he said once as he stared beyond me dismissively.
What he actually said was; you’re a fool, but that’s ok you’re supposed to be.
It was like he wanted to show me my own stupidity, to be aware of it because without that realisation I couldn’t learn from him.
Or anyone else for that matter.
He was in his late 50’s I’d say and had been in the game since he left school at 12 or 13. It was common for boys leaving primary school at the time to go to work.
The lucky ones got a trade.
NOT ALL SUNSHINE & LIGHT
By virtue of his years, he had become a master craftsman. Although that was other people’s view.
He was quiet and unassuming as he moved about his work. Rarely did I see him lose his composure, but when he did he did it with ferocity and seemed to leave it behind easily.
Once he fired the tools across the room in a total rage.
I was left brow raised and mute.
He told me to go get more materials, so I did. When I returned he was sitting on an upturned blue crate in the corner of the concrete shell we were working, back against the wall, legs crossed, smoking.
“Right young man, let’s get this thing finished so we can go for tea”, he said as he stamped out his smoke and rose from his temporary seat.
It was like nothing happened.
He is gone now. But as I remember that incident it seems that he accepted he had a dark side. When it rose up he let it express itself and simply moved on.
Most of us are not that brave or accepting of ourselves.
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The Modern Worldview
He was never critical of poor workmanship per se. His only comment to me was usually, “now kid, that’s an example of how not to do it”.
The practical man knew inherently that others deserved their space to carry out their work to the level they were capable.
He knew in time they would improve.
He also knew that nature abhors a vacuum — where there was a need to learn that need would be filled.
Even though their standards were way below that which he displayed he understood that the world would be a very boring place if everyone was the same.
“Never assume you’re right”, he said to me once. “Never assume you’re wrong either. Take your time, don’t speak too soon”.
“Weigh up what you see and feel then make your move. Never be so rigid that you can’t change your mind. That’s a fools game”.
THE ANALYTICAL MIND
I feel these days the wisdom of the practical man has been discarded for something considered more accurate and trustworthy.
Intuition and momentary feeling have been replaced with analytical, binary modes of thought.
Modern thinkers and scientific people want to distil the world down into 1’s and 0’s. They want to divide everything into boxes with labels.
You’re either right or wrong. Apparent gray areas must not be tolerated in things or people.
This analytical, logical way of thinking is important perhaps at a physical, mechanical level. But on a universal level, it robs us of greater understanding.
The universe we live in is not a binary thing. Nor is it a combination of binary things.
It is multimodal, multifaceted, complex, existent in many places at once and ever-changing. Right and wrong then, are only valid from a particular, narrow perspective.
The Validity of The Individual Experience
To hold to one system of thought and analysis as true excludes others that may benefit us.
Every view has validity at the absolute level of mind.
It appears to me that there are as many universes as there are points of consciousness to perceive it.
Where you and I agree is where our spheres of perception overlap. Here is where we share the experience, where we become resonant with one another.
Every single moment we encounter, or rather the only moment we encounter, is formed according to pre-written scripts held somewhere in mind.
In other words, I see the world according to the way I have been conditioned.
This applies to the physical phenomena of the five senses and psychic phenomena — ideas, concepts, beliefs and so on.
This is so because there is no separating the physical from the mental. They are co-operative components in our individual and group perception of the world.
One feeds the other in an ever-expanding feedback loop.
The momentum of expansion of the loop doesn’t care what we focus on. It will stimulate itself to growth and bring to our awareness more of the same things we believe.
There is no separating the seer from the scene you might say. They mutually arise by virtue of each other.
In other words, we get what we ask for.
The trouble with us humans is that we fail to accept or even understand that there is complete validity in the individual experience.
No matter how crazy, left of centre or even abhorrent someone’s views seem, they are valid from the individual standpoint. There is no objective reality.
The further from our position another position seems to be, the crazier and more dangerous we proclaim it.
This in itself is dangerous for who will police the police?
You know, even Hitler was right, to some people, for a time.
The Only Show In Town
I subscribe to a live and let live philosophy these days.
That doesn’t mean I tolerate things that go against my grain mind you. If I witness something I see as unjust I will act accordingly.
I am happy that my automatic response will be the right one, even when it’s not.
From a creative perspective, it means I am willing to create what I want and put it out there despite what others might think.
I don’t care how it’s received. Not too much anyway.
In a way, I welcome the negative as it means I’m relevant (Oh beautiful Ego!). In recent times I’ve managed to develop a different feeling towards it than I used to.
Before, in the anticipation of negative feedback on something I wrote or a job I did, I would take negativity very personally.
You know the feeling…
That sickening knot in the stomach. That visceral feeling of exposure and the need to justify our position.
I don’t get a whole lot of negative sentiment towards my work these days and I welcome that. But when I do it seems I process it differently.
I don’t know why it just happens that way.
The only way forward for us then is the current way. You and I are on it, so best we get comfortable.
This is the only show in town.
I originally published this article in Sunday Letters, the weekly newsletter I send to my readers. Read or listen to the original here.