Close Enough for … What?

The other day, I was making up my bed with freshly washed sheets, and I decided to take care of a small detail that had been bothering me for a while. The box spring under my mattress lay at an angle on the bedframe, which made it difficult to settle the comforter over the foot of the bed.

My bedframe is an antique; four generations of my family have rested on it over the decades. A bit creaky when you lay down or roll over, but still in great shape. Occasionally, however, I would roll over and the box and mattress would fall out. Not the best way to wake up, I assure you, and another reason to straighten things out.

I took hold of that misaligned box spring and shoved. It didn’t budge. I went to the other side of the bed. Still no luck. I pulled the mattress off and tugged. Why was this silly thing not cooperating?

After a few more attempts, I stepped back to take a look at the problem, and that’s when I truly saw it. The box spring was not off-center. The bedframe was. A tug on the frame settled the box right into place, and now my comforter drapes very nicely and the mattress stays in place.

You may have noticed something in your inner self that feels a little bit off. Maybe it’s a habit. Maybe it’s an attitude. There’s something not quite right about it, but it’s small enough that you’ve never taken the time to address it. “It’s not that big a deal.”

Or maybe you have tried to do something about it, and you find yourself frustrated every time. “I just can’t fix it. It’s just the way I am. I can’t change.”

We each have an inner framework, a structure upon which we build our lives. When that is out of alignment, everything else will be off. We can cover up smaller issues with bedskirts and shams, but those don’t make the problem go away. Eventually, the bottom will fall out from under us.

I suggest that perhaps the issue is not the issue. Maybe it’s something underlying that “mattress” that is the real problem.

Take a few moments to consider those things within yourself that bother you. Pull off the covers, set aside the trappings. Take a long look at the framework of your heart and mind and see if perhaps something there needs to change before any other effort will work.

A few years ago, a movie came out that explored one of the fears we humans have of artificial intelligence: what if robots turn against us? Worse, what if they decide to protect us from ourselves? One of the lines the main AI repeated was: “My logic is infallible.”

The AI’s logic was correct. It put the pieces together in the right order. However, the premises upon which it based that logic were flawed (or perhaps incomplete). Its framework was off. Humanity must not be protected from itself because only in struggling and striving do we thickheaded creatures develop and grow. In trying to protect humanity from stubbed toes, the robots would actually destroy it through stagnation. The AI would not reexamine its premises, and so it had to be destroyed.

In another, older, movie about an AI that might have destroyed the world, the day was saved when the characters got the computer to play tic-tac-toe. The AI extrapolated a child’s game to the war game and turned off the nukes on its own. Why? Because it realized that pursuing its previous course of action would not achieve the results it was programmed for. It had been operating under misunderstanding, which it corrected.

You may have correct logic regarding that “thing” in your life. I challenge you to look at your premises. Is that “just natural” or is that something you can willfully affect? Are you really “doomed” to be like that forever?

What have you built your life on, and is it true?

I sleep more soundly these days, knowing that my bed is set right. If I’d used a carpenter’s square when I last moved the bed, I would have avoided this whole mess. There are many areas of life where, if we would only use the standard of the Carpenter, we would avoid fear, suffering, or discomfort. And many times, what seems an unfixable problem when confronted with pure logic becomes simple when we look at the foundation we’ve built it on.

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