Are you confusing driveways with roads? Or how to see your blinding assumptions.

Mar 10, 2015

I was in Portland, Oregon last weekend for a friend’s baby shower.

I used my i-Phone to easily find the neighborhood. I felt smug. (I get lost very easily.)

I was even on time!

But then I could not, no matter what I did, find the actual house.

The navigation phone lady was telling me to turn here and then turn again. River Court, River Circle, but she could not seem to find Old River Landing. The navigation map showed me I was really really close… but still no sign of Old River Landing.

I drove in various configurations of a pretzel around that neighborhood for nearly 20 minutes.

I would have sworn to you – on a stack of Bibles! – that the navigation system was malfunctioning (it was but not entirely). That it was the satellites fault or some underpaid pissed off programmer messing with me.

I asked a neighbor (the only one outside) but she didn’t know where Old River Landing was either.

And then, despairing of ever finding the party, after having driven four hours to attend, on the verge of tears, I noticed the driveway again, the driveway I had glanced at over and over, and dismissed. It was a driveway, not a road.

It was a narrow, unmarked one-lane road that quickly disappeared down a steep slope.

I thought, “Wait, how do I know that’s actually a driveway??”

Then: “What if that’s Old River Landing?’’

It was and I quickly found the house and the party.

Later, driving back up the road that is not a driveway but appeared very much like one, I marveled: I literally could not see where to go because I saw a driveway.

I was not looking for a driveway. I was looking for a road, looking for a road named Old River Landing. What I saw conformed to my idea of a driveway, my mental model, and thus I could not hear what my phone was telling me. To be fair, it actually wasn’t directing me correctly, but I could have studied the map for clues, except I couldn’t. My assumptions were blinding me.

Isn’t that fascinating? Doesn’t it make you want to ask, “What am I blind to because I assume X?”

Because you are blind a lot of the time. We all are.

I walk around blinded by my assumptions about Bob, about my mother, about my neighbors, about my work. Locked in stories I can’t even see.

It’s so liberating to start questioning what I assume to be true. What if? How do I know? Who says?

What do you assume about your co-workers? Your partner? Your pet? Your best friend? Your mother?

Or – here’s the biggie – yourself? What are you assuming you can’t do, isn’t possible, you don’t have what it takes, it’s too late?

Here’s what I’m up to – looking for the moments that I “know” I just KNOW, and becoming very still (that’s imperative – stillness), and then wondering about that knowing, about my story of that “driveway.” How do I know it’s not a road? A road that could lead somewhere I really might want to explore?

Join me in questioning your knowing! Who knows what we might discover.



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