Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Label Makers

Buddha once held up a flower to his disciples
and  asked each of them to say something about it.

They gazed at it in silence for a while.

One pronounced a philosophical lecture on it.
Another produced a poem on it.
Yet another made a parable about it.
All trying to outdo one another in depth.

Mahakashyap Looked at the flower and smiled and said nothing.

Only he had seen it.

We sometimes rush to judgement in our effort to label the new around us. I have been dealing with inquiries about the apartment I have to rent and I find myself sorting people by the nature of a few words they email me in response to my ad.

We are told not to discriminate in housing and jobs and in life in general and yet we all are looking for those roughly like us to be near us. And we avoid unpleasant experiences or want to. So if a young couple did not complete their lease or pay us promptly we shy from someone sounding young. So young is out. Some label themselves. And that can be handy. Retired, family, self-sufficient, building a house, moving from Oregon, etc.

But labels can also be very restrictive. I was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting last night. Aaaah I bet you didn't see me as a CC member. And were were discussing tourists and tourism. Among ourselves we call them white platers as they are from Texas, Oklahoma or Kansas and some Louisiana; states that issued predominately white license plates. If you are behind a white plater driving through the canyon you might grumble about flatland tourists not knowing how to drive.

I was taking notes on programs the Chamber of Commerce was embracing. I was taking them in the memo function of my Galaxy Tab. One of the speakers after the meeting asked if I was bored. It took me a few moments to realize he probably thought I was texting a friend or playing Angry Birds rather than recording the prime points of his presentation.

We are prone to rush to judgement entirely too fast. Sometimes that is necessary in our busy lives to sort through the infinite data possible. But sometimes it paints us into a corner and restricts our options. My photograph of the above cactus flower did not depend upon my ability to name it. But it is good to know it has thorns.


  1. The photo of the flowers; beautiful!!!

    You are so right about labeling. I think we all do it, and without thinking.

  2. It is natural to label - it's something we have been brought up to do whether we like it or not. Maybe my daughter's generation or some of them anyway, are different. Maybe we have been stung once too often or let our guards down when we shouldn't have done. Maybe we didn't follow our instincts when we should have done and then lived to regret it. Whatever the reason we all revert to type eventually and try as we may, we do label. I try not to but it's not that easy. Call it female intuition, call it the Holy Spirit - my mother used to say it was my sixth sense. I have learned over the years that no matter how the end is, my first judgement was always the right one no matter what I allowed to happen between the beginning and that end.

    The man who questioned you is a) technology impaired and b) judgmental (although he wouldn't see the latter as being that)!!!!

    1. I watched a program once where they were interviewing one of the FBI Monster hunters and he said the worst thing we ever told women was to not follow their instinct. More women have been killed and raped because the thought it proper to not attach a label.


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