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In Perspective at 4th of July Car Wash July 4, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Community, Humanity, Wisdom.
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Now and then you may be given the opportunity to be a bit reflective on all that is going on around you in a local sense, a regional level, national, and perhaps at a world level.  It seems worthwhile to consider how everything connects.  To that end, let me offer a trivial and insignificant example – yet one that has several connections.  Connections based on decisions.

Our lives are filled with decisions each day.  Do we eat this, or eat that?  What time we wake up?  Do we take a bit longer reading that item, or do we set it down and proceed to the next item on our agenda?  Do we extend our conversation with who we are with, valuing their need for an important dialog, or do we end on time and proceed to the next conversation – assuring it is given appropriate time to mature into a dialog that may have a beneficial outcome.  How do we judge best how to allocate our time to the collective benefit of others?  Is that our primary motivation – the benefit of others – or do we seek personal benefit and gain ahead of that objective?

lexus_gs350There are simple decisions that we make every day.  The decision that begins with noticing that your car is dirty.  Does it need to be washed?  Does having a clean car signify something of value.  Is having a clean car an important life objective?  How clean must your car be?  Between the extreme of washing your car every day (or even multiple times per day) to remove every visible smudge, and going more than a year with an accumulated layer of dirt and grime – there must be an agreed on standard.  Or is there a standard.  If there was a “clean car standard” would that make the decision to wash your car any different?  Maybe if there was a “dirt index” then you could run a scanner over your car and it would register a “wash / no-wash” signal and you would have one less decision to make for that item in your life.

But choosing to wash your car or to not wash your car is an important decision.  All decisions are important decisions.  Choosing to wash your car gets you into the game.  Its an example of choosing “to do“, rather than choosing “not to do“.  If you can string together a series of decisions that seek “to do” and those decisions are largely directed at the benefit of others, then you are probably doing OK.

So I choose to wash my car.  Sometimes I wash it myself.  Other times I choose to bring it to a car wash.  Which of those choices today will have greater benefit for others?  If I wash it on my own, then I may have the option of dialog with my neighbors.  I also feel like I have more control over the outcome of the wash.  I use special soap that really cleans the surface, I use micro-fiber cloths that remove dirt without damaging the surface, and I make sure to dry the surface with special micro-fiber towels that don’t streak or damage the surface.

I feel good about washing the car myself, but sometimes I choose to have others wash it.  By making the choice to have others wash my car, I provide income to the local economy.  Somebody also gets a tip and that helps to meet the needs of those individuals.  Those that wash my car at the car wash always seem to appreciate the opportunity to offer a valuable service in return for a wage.  I feel good about participating in that cycle.  I generally believe that the quality of the car wash is not as good as my hand wash, but it is much faster and there appears to be a distributed economic benefit.  So which is better?  Neither one is better.  Each time we make that decision to wash our car, we are putting our self out there and the act of making that decision is what it’s all about.

So make a decision to decide several times today.  On the 4th of July, there are not quite as many decisions to be made as the rest of the year.  If there were decisions today, many of them were likely made weeks or months ago and they affect the way we move throughout this specific day. However, there are small decisions throughout the day.  To decide to get the tangled brush out of your daughter’s hair that is so embedded you imagine that scissors are your only recourse.  To decide to attend that BBQ event with a number of participants that you don’t really know but it’s a good opportunity for community dialog. To decide to cook dinner for your kids and their friends so that everybody involved has a comfortable location for shared dialog and companionship.  To decide that no matter how clean or dirty your car is, that you will decide how to wash or not wash it – the next time that topic pops into your head.

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