08 Apr

Another gem from Patricia Ryan Madson. Improv Wisdom.

sip. it.

sip. it.Improv Wisdom.

I am stretching this read out as long as possible…

Patricia suggests three vantage points from which we each can look at a person or event:

First filter: to see what’s wrong with it (the critical method – commonly used in higher education, says she. Also the default vantage point of much of religion, I would add – but in reality it’s just the default human method). In using this lens the self looms large, she observes.

Second filter: to see it objectively (the scientific method). Using this lens both the self as well as others are meant to disappear.

Nothing personal.

Third filter: to see the gift in it (she calls this the improv method – I would probably dub it pneumatic). With this lens others loom large, she observes.


This is definitely what we do, but it seems to me all too often everything gets clogged up in the first two filters and precious little even makes it to the third.The first filter alone can be enough to gum up most anything fed into it – there’s so much wrong with anything or anyone that we see or hear or smell or taste or touch – for anything or anyone to make it through that straining filter to the “gift” level can be as likely as the Aussies in Gallipoli reaching the Turkish trenches.

Hdgs_FishingJust wondering what might happen, what treasures we might discover in unexpected places and faces if we inverted the filters.

What if our first filter, the default filter, was the gift filter?

What if our primary mode, our fundamental approach to all of life was experiencing it as we anticipate the gift?

What if our “filter” was more like a great net thrown out into the sea of the world, gathering in a little bit of everything in a non-discriminatory net, all of it then dragged up on the shore of our hearts, anticipating treasures, looking for gifts, expecting unexpected good, unimagined delight. Will there be garbage in the catch? Absolutely. And we’ll know what to do with it when we find it – or it finds us through it’s pungent odor or the slice on our finger from it’s rough edges.

300px-AnatomyofafishhookBut then, as we say, “One man’s garbage…”

How insightful that it is a heightened preoccupation with self that keeps us confined to the “what’s wrong with it” filter, that keeps us from casting a larger net, that limits us instead to a single discriminating hook. Ah, but even then, if we will look even the least impressive randomly snagged gift fish in the mouth caught on our discriminating hook before we throw it back with disgust, we might find just the treasure we need for the day.

Oh to get beyond pointing out all that’s wrong in the big screen performance of life, so we might see the gifts passing right before our faces.

What might we see, and where might it take us?



Posted by on April 8, 2014 in haverings


Tags: , , , , ,

3 responses to “filters

  1. patriciaryanmadson

    April 13, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Again, you nailed it. It pleases me a lot that you picked this issue to write about. Of ALL the things I have learned in my 71 years . . . this “truth” (And I do see it as truth) is the most profound. Each of us is here and alive thanks to the work and efforts and products and goods that sustain us. Almost no one sees this. I am grateful to David K. Reynolds whose work in Constructive Living and its inclusion of Naikan opened my eyes to this lens. It changes things. Everything.

  2. wordhaver

    April 14, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks Patricia! And you’re right – it does change everything!


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