Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Musing on Expectations and Environment

I am sitting here on the third tier of the black no-slip rubber-stepped stepstool, laptop perched on my knees, writing in the garage. To my right is a white-painted 1x4 piece of wood, one end leaning on a waist high stack of (to-be-laid) patio tiles and the other on a trash can. This is an experiment. First it was a necessity. Then it BECAME an experiment.

I have a cleaning crew over to clean my house today. I usually do it (or don’t do it) myself. Actually, that’s why I ended up with a crew today…I needed a little catch-up…a little extra help. It became clear that, with the number of hours I actually had available to work on the house, I needed a miracle (and it wasn’t going to be by my own hand.)

So, why am I in the garage? Because the dogs had to go into the garage. They are not used to having people they don’t know in our house, and I wasn’t exactly sure what they were going to do. Also, the crew had to go in and out the front and sliding doors. Our dogs have been known, on occasion, to go exploring when no one was looking. We put a stop to that. I have no intention of starting it up again. Now I am in the garage.

It’s a little like a large enclosed junk yard where beloved furniture, nick-nacks, holiday decorations, gift wrap and things we might need one day on the moon, go to rest. We haven’t had a car in there since the eighties.

So, why am I ambling? I’m thinking I’m just fine in here. I’m engaged in this silly little blog and I really don’t mind the mess. If this were my living room, I’d be having a cow.
But, knowing that in a couple of hours, the crew will be gone and I will be let out (along with the dogs), makes it all alright. I would have said environment is everything. But having a particular set of expectations (I expect to be let out in two hours) changes my perception of the environment. I’m not really sure what to make of this insight, but I’ll tell you this, I’m asking this crew to come back next week!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


This morning, as almost all Saturday mornings, I drove the forty-five miles at 7a.m. to take my mom to get her hair done because she is afraid to take the door-to-door senior dropoff at $1.70 a trip. I am tired, and a bit cranky. I’m feeling slightly unappreciated and a little used, even though I willingly volunteer. I really don’t have the time. And I really don’t have the extra money. With gas prices at almost $5.00 a gallon, it costs me $20 a trip, $80 a month. I’m also tired. Mother spent the night with me last night. She doesn’t need much sleep. We were up way too late, past midnight. Then, we were up at the crack of dawn, so she had time to dress and eat breakfast, take her pills and follow her morning routine. I love her dearly, but by now I am a little grumpy.

The beauty salon is on a busy, heavily-trafficked street. It is just a little shop. I can’t say how many times we’ve driven right passed it and missed it. We usually park right in front. There are two meters. They are usually empty. I usually pull right into the slot, pull out her handicap sticker, her wheel chair and escort her into the shop. Today, we are late. It’s my fault. I couldn’t get my act together. SO…I pull up and both slots are taken. There is a driveway just past the two parking spots. I double park in the driveway, unload my mom, get her into the shop because I am panicked. NOW, we are really late. What if she misses her appointment?

As I come out of the shop to retrieve my illegally-parked car, (I am now slightly calmer), I look at the street. There are three empty parking spaces. Apparently, in spite of my expectations, there were three spots not two in front of the shop. There are also two empty spaces on the other side of the driveway where I illegally parked. Why hadn’t I seen this?

Our emotional state, our frame-of-mind, our preset conclusions, all effects our perceptions. In my mind there were only two spaces! So, that was all I saw. I was feeling slightly anxious (we were late) and I was overly tired. So the manner in which I took in information was flawed, leading to a flawed conclusion.

I think about this. Why don’t we teach perception in school? Why don’t we point out that sometimes what we perceive as ‘fact’ is influenced by our emotional state at the moment? Instead, we treat data as law (except even law is susceptible to interpretation). I think about all the information we feed children. Never do we include the consciousness that human perception definitely influences all information, including history, science and current events. Don’t we think this is important?