On a Tuesday Sarah calls, “Do you want to join me for RBG?”
I don’t know what she means and I don’t ask because I love Sarah. She has great ideas.
I say, “Ya, maybe.”
She says, “Friday night.”
I don’t inquire into RBG, the who, what, where, when, or why. I trust my pal Sarah.
I say, “I’ll check with my husband to see if we have plans.”
He shakes his head, “No plans. What’s RBG?”
I shrug, “I don’t know. Sarah has tickets.”
I call Sarah. “Hey, what’s RBG?”
She says, “Ruth Bader Ginsberg.”
I presume the venue is Hannaford Hall at the University of Southern Maine (USM) where great talks happen. I also now suppose my husband might like to go, since I’ll pour out that Ruth Bader Ginsberg is coming to Portland. I say, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg will speak at USM. Any interest?”
He says, “No.”
I text Sarah, “I’ll go.”
Friday morning I chat with my friend Peter who says RBG is sold out for both afternoon and evening. Shocked, I ask, “Ruth Bader Ginsberg is lecturing twice in one day? She’s 85. Won’t that be a lot for her?”
Peter furrows his brow, “Ahh….It’s a documentary. Two showings.”
Later, on our way, I tell Sarah my story. We laugh about how I had merely guessed at the details. I drive as she navigates, directing me. “There’s good parking on Free St. or Park St.”
I don’t understand. Free St. and Park St. are nowhere near USM. I strategize aloud about how to get to Hannaford Hall. I say, “I’m ok walking, but Park St. is a long way from USM.”
She says, “the movie is at the Art Museum.”
In his book The Four Agreements,Miguel Angel Ruiz warns about making assumptions. In my defense, he does say it’s normal for human beings to spin their own thoughts and not ask questions. Since we have imaginations, we tend to be good at making stuff up. The problem is that we believe our fantasies (“She’s speaking twice?”). We then act on them (“This is not the way to USM”). One guess leads to another (“She’s 85. She’ll be tired”).We deem our story true and we correct others (“Sarah, what? Free St?”).
Ruiz writes, “We think too much.”
Then there’s psychologist Abraham Maslow who wrote, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
A parallel might be, “if the only instrument we use is our intellect, we might show up at the wrong venue, expecting the wrong show, walking a long lonely way to get there.”
The burden of our most familiar tools can haunt us and, yes, I am really good at thinking.
To reduce the problem of making assumptions, Ruiz suggests we set aside what we think we know, that we don’t try to explain anything to ourselves and instead invite an open mind, asking questions until we know what’s going on. He didn’t use those words. I interpreted what I understood him to say. See what I mean?
As another way to summon the truth, poet John O’Donohue urged, “A good question is something that has incredible grace and light and depth to it.”
Ruiz again: “Don’t make assumptions. By making this one agreement a habit, your whole life will be completely transformed.”
Really? I’ll try. I assume (funny, right?) Ruiz means that we need to come into a new experience with ourselves by asking graceful, light and deep questions. I’m starting now.