Jeffrey Dupra: Lessons from an echo
As a child, I grew up on a small lake. I remember vividly the way my own voice, shouted across the water would be slapped back to me — an echo — by the bare boards of the neighbor’s boathouse.
When I shouted “Hello!” the echo returned, “Hello!” I suppose it is easy and a touch sentimental to say that those were simpler times.
In much the same way that drivers slow and stare at an accident I started reading comments posted by readers of The Union in response to online articles. It was a good idea made in poor taste, and one that quickly evolved into an anthropological sporting event of sorts. And let me be clear, lest I now shout “Hello!” only to have my echo come back, “Idiot!” I embrace social and political differences, it is our behavior that disappoints.
In general I try to avoid opinions, my own included. I don’t deny them, for as a direct and natural response to the world and my humanness I create, sustain, have and defend them. The reason that I try to avoid them, and perhaps it is more accurate to say I try to avoid becoming too attached to “them” — opinions — is that I try, often, to change them as well.
I am not reading from a final text. I am working on the refinement of a rough draft. I don’t claim, nor feel, that it is that important, to “know” much. In fact most of what I think I know pertains directly, to things that I do not.
I know that I am not always right.
I know that I have never met anyone else who is always right.
I know that the best way to learn anything is to listen to others, especially when they disagree with me.
I know that it is true and possible to think that I am right and to have someone else think that I am wrong. The inverse of this — that I can think someone else is wrong while they think that they are right — is also true and possible.
I know that my thoughts are at best mere symbols and representations of the rich, vast, mystery in which I am involved.
I know that beneath complex social behaviors, needs, ideas, systems, and patterns there a just a handful of truly human, truly important things and values; family, friends, relationships, communities, love, acceptance, belonging — others to be sure, but not that many.
I know that it is our choice to either do the right thing or to be right, and that they are not the same.
As a child when I would shout from the end of the dock I was often alone. And yet it was from a need for companionship that I would shout and break my own internal silence. It was imperative that I be heard.
I would shout “Hello!” and at that time the echo would come back to me, every time, “Hello!”
Those may have been simpler times.
But I know that if I had shouted “Hello!” and the world had shouted back, “Idiot!” I would not be the same.
Jeffrey Dupra lives in Nevada City.
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