Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Art of Opportuning

In a sense I have no right to say “poor me” or to even say anything to others who say, “poor me.” I’ve had so many privileges. I can’t start to imagine what my life would have been like if things had been different. Some of the privileges were a birthright, some were earned, and others were a gift of the stars. I’ve had challenges too, but minuscule compared to some.

This is a free country (we are told)…so here I go:

When things weren’t going well there was an exercise we did at the college where I taught. It was a reframing operation—we took the threats and morphed them into opportunities.

For example, because of climate change, one might not be able to grow figs any more. Some would be “down” calling the glass half empty, and lament about the “good old days.” Others would see this as an opportunity for change. They could grow something else, move to a different climate, stop growing altogether or go back to school and learn to acquire a new vocation.

This is what we call “fresh air.” Complaining just gets us deeper in quick sand. Opportuning (just made up that word) does the opposite. The glass is now half full.

Here’s another example: my car won’t start so I can’t drive to the grocery store. Opportuning, I realize I can walk to the store and on the way, say hi to the neighbors who are out on their sidewalk. Different framing.

I think sometimes about people I’ve known who have taken their lives. Their lives had challenges to be sure, but by no means (as seen from the outside) as dire as many others. Some will say that they were clinically depressed. I suspect they were right in some cases. But I wonder what might have been different if they had learned the art of opportuning.

In my search for what should be included in our education, opportuning certainly should be included. It takes us from being victims to being survivors.

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