Some people do not know when they come to a threshold. They take the next step not knowing that it will change the rest of their lives.
Thresholds are wonderful when you move through doorways of blessing. But they become markers of regret as you descend into places you’d rather not be.
None of us had a choice in crossing the first threshold. Birth brought us here before we could say, “Hey, wait a minute. Can we talk?” Our first breath, first heartbeat, first opening of the eyes were thresholds crossed without thinking. As we grew and became aware, we realized that we were on a journey not of our making. Then came the day we discovered that there will be a last threshold. One that will return us to our maker. Who asked for that?!
As infants we do not know the difference between breast feeding and regurgitation, breathing and crying, a heartbeat and a bowel movement. What happens to us, and what we do, seem like one and the same thing. Being a helpless baby is ironically like being God. We master our universe by simply being here.
Then someone neglects us. We don’t get what we want and we learn to scream and create space for ourselves. Later, we learn the great power of defining our world; “This is mine.” “I want that.” “No.” “I will! Just watch me!” We begin to cross our own thresholds without thinking.
This is when trouble begins. When a person does not learn the difference between the thresholds you choose, and thresholds that are chosen, he takes life for granted. He thinks he is the center of the known universe. In that ignorance, he suffers. And causes suffering.
I knew someone who stood for the highest and best principles of life. But did it in such a way that they destroyed people around them. This “do gooder” became like a shark in a feeding frenzy. Absolutely right― but blissfully ignorant that they were tearing people apart. This is actually a form of evil.
Q: What removes ignorance? A: Unintended consequences.
For example, a hungry infant screams until someone feeds him. He is ignorant of the fact that his mother is exhausted and needs sleep. One day she simply lets him scream. In ignorance he feels unloved. He must someday learn the truth in spite of what he feels.
Or… we try to be too sanitary in a world of germs, using antibacterial soap until one day we realize that we have created a superbug resistant to antibiotics. That wake-up call removes ignorance.
Or… striking out against macho abusers we feminize the culture until we create a politically correct army that cannot stand up to a brutal enemy.
As I said, many times we do not know when we come to a threshold.
The difference between ignorance and awareness is appreciation. Nothing can be appreciated when it is held in the dark. Becoming aware is the essential first step.
One Step Forward
Can you remember a time when you set out to make the world a better place, and instead, you created a disaster? Or can you remember something small… like a time you intended to be kind, and created an enemy? Oops, I created a monster.
These rude awakenings shine a light on the thresholds you have crossed in ignorance. This is a small light, not a search light. Do not become your own thought police. Appreciation is the goal here, not controlling yourself or the world around you. Leave that for babies and God.
Simple awareness will introduce you to humility, apologies, and do-overs. All of which make the world a better place.
To be continued…