Open Range Boundaries
Recently several men and I were having a look at the boundaries of our own curiosity – particularly where and when we turn-off or find ourselves no longer able or willing to listen to points of view that run counter to our own.
Like so many conversations that take the deep plunge, there wasn’t enough time to say or hear all that could be spoken or listened to.
What was telling, though, was that each man on the call was very clear that he had his own limits, that – as open-minded a group as we believe we are – there are still boundaries within which one will not allow entry.
I don’t offer this admission as an invitation to develop or indulge a rigidly closed mind…
I offer it as a truth around which I – and my fellow men, in this case – can focus some awareness in order to be as conscious as possible in choosing to hold or soften those boundaries.
Let me give you some examples of my own:
I generally stop listening after hearing enough to recognize that information being offered is based on simplistic, anti-science conspiracy theories…
I willingly turn off my intake when someone insists they know – without question – more about what I’m thinking and/or feeling than I do…
I have a hard time hearing the words of someone who consistently, insistently rushes forward with answers, yet seems unable to find it within themselves to ask questions…
I get extremely squirmy around those who want me – or the world – to believe they’ve never failed or made a mistake…
And, as a dear friend likes to remind me, I’m a highly trained listener who teaches others to listen…
So wouldn’t I be willing to hear just about anything?
Sure – “just about” being the operative phrase…
Because you’d better believe my open mind has some serious boundaries.
Well, if you look at my short bullet-point list above as a four-card hand, there’s a trio of know-it-alls and one gross over-simplification.
I have no idea what card game that would be, by the way, but that’s the hand.
Here’s the thing, as if we needed a reminder: The world is a complex place full of mystery with few concrete answers. It’s a messy place of on-going, often sudden and even shocking change that – while sometimes exhausting to witness or hang with – continues to shift below our individual and collective feet.
Add to the equation the blessed – and cursed – impermanence of we human beings and our beloved ideas and systems and…
Well, as far as I can tell it all brings us to this very day, to this very moment, over and over again as time passes.
At some point, I would assert, as open-minded as one could ever wish to be, most of us simply don’t have the luxury of time or bandwidth needed to keep the floodgates in the ever-open position.
Of course, locking the gates in the closed position results in the waters of the mind getting stagnant, dank and – unless you’re a mosquito or made of algae and like it that way – kinda nasty…
Because one of the gifts and of conscious adulthood is discernment. With that discernment in hand, we get to be responsible for the choices and decisions we make – including who and what we spend our time watching and listening to.
By the way, I’m absolutely not suggesting shutting out ideas and words just because you don’t like them. Nor am I advocating being in conversation only with those with whom you reliably agree.
Goodness knows that in our current polarized state we have way too much of both going on right now!
Listen well and deeply.
And, as you listen, invite curiosity and discernment so you can choose wisely and consciously when to further open – and when to close – your own gates.
If you’ve ever driven through the western US, you know that even open range lands have boundaries…
As a responsible, conscious adult, you and your open mind get to have them, too.