Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One part of the elephant

There's a story about blind men and an elephant.  There are many different versions out there but the gist of it is this:

A group of blind men touch an elephant to learn what is it like.

The first man touches the leg and says an elephant is like a pillar. 
The second man touches the tail and says an elephant is like a rope. 
The third man touches the trunk and says an elephant is like a branch of tree. 
The fourth man touches the ear and says an elephant is like a large hand fan. 
The fifth man touches the belly and says an elephant is like a huge wall. 
The sixth man touches the tusk and says an elephant is like a solid pipe.

Of course the men disagree because each one only touched one part of the elephant.

The moral of the story? What you believe to be true is based only on  your perspective, you cannot possibly know the absolute truth without seeing the whole picture.

I thought of this recently after a friend told me his thoughts on my qualifications (or rather lack thereof) for a certain job.  I was shocked at what he said and tried, probably rather badly, to explain how wrong he was, pointing out that his knowledge of me is limited to the time we spend together, which in itself is constricted by his own limitations.  Don't misunderstand me - I'm not really hurt anymore by what he said. In his own way, he actually meant it as a compliment. To him, that particularly skill set has less value, so in telling me I lack them, he was also saying that I can and should do better. Yeah, I get that. Being overqualified for potential jobs is nothing new to me!

But what bothers me is his steadfast belief in seeing me in just that one viewpoint - mindblowing from someone so intelligent who prides himself on being a logical thinker. I also can't help wondering how that affects our friendship. Does this mean that any support or encouragement is limited to only those endeavors he finds worthy? Because as I see it, the action of a friend is to learn what someone wants and then see what you can do to help make it happen. It's just that simple.

4 comments:

Mia said...

wow. a lot to think about there.

In the meantime, can I offer ya a ::::big hug:::: ??

And to tell you you're awesome - as if there's any doubt. It IS interesting about perspectives. I'm gonna think about that.

beentsy said...

I love that fable. Perception is everything eh?

As to your friend, some friends end up showing themselves to be more acquaintances, know what I mean? Sucks, but there it is. Hugs to you girl. :)

Carolyn (Harbor Hon) said...

Never thought about that before, but you make perfect sense. We are all part of the whole and perception is just a part. You could be a teacher ... I'd listen. xxoo

Alien Brain said...

Just catching up with your blog and believe I recognize who the myopic culprit may have been! Of course you know there's not a grain of salt big enough to temper those spewed observations, once they've been blurted. You DO deserve a hug and the encouragement of someone with at least the potential to see the big picture and all of your talents and complexities. I don't even know what words transpired, but I have SO been there (as you know)! Be wary of the philosophies of feral kitties...xo