Falling on my Ass…umptions

When is a college professor like a cop?  I guess when we talk about “assumptions.”

In Meditations on Violence: a Comparison of Martial Arts and Real World Violence, Sergeant Rory Miller gives us a great section called “How to Think.”  He says before addressing tactics and strategy (in his case in his work as a correctional officer) you need to discuss ‘assumptions.’

Maybe it’s self-serving but I love his definition.  He calls assumptions the “things you assume to be true without really considering them.”  When I teach at the community college it’s a conversation I use to start every semester.

My favorite part of my role as college professor is the opportunity to challenge my students’ assumptions every day in every way.  I ask them lots of questions: Where did that thought came from?  Is it a bias or is it founded on a truth you’ve examined?  And, if it’s a bias, how did you get it?  Is it acquired or inherited?  I am still surprised when they answer, “my grandma (or other relative) says so.”

Or, as a student once asked,  “So what you REALLY want to know is if we’ve ever given any thought to what’s coming out of our mouths?”

And while I like that they learn certain material, I’m truly happy when they learn to make room for thinking differently and open to new possibilities.

When I first began to think about the things I wanted to do with my “retirement” I developed a huge list of things to try.  The next step was to get honest.  I had to decide which list items were relevant to my life and which ones were based on bad assumptions.  I wanted be certain that my newfound free time was not consumed with any activity because an expert, friend, or my grandparents “said so.”

A surprising “find” was that some fell off the list because they were built on ego rather than passion.  It was like the difference between trying to stay vital and healthy through diet and exercise versus using Botox and plastic surgery.  It’s fine, for example, that I’ve always wanted to learn Japanese, it adds to my martial arts and Buddhist practice, but I finally realized that the banjo had been gathering dust in the closet for years because I liked the idea of performing music for the applause of others.  Not a “fit.”

As I become more aware that time is finite, an activity’s intrinsic value matters much more my vanity.


2 Responses to “Falling on my Ass…umptions”

  1. Kurt Carlstedt Says:

    I have learned that assumptions lock us into linear perspectives and deny us the chance for circular ones. Like an old draught horse, we place great limits on our views of the world around us. Wonderful observation, Senior Samurai!

  2. kaitonydavid@gmail.com Says:

    How freeing to think for ourselves and what responsibly it brings. Many choose other paths because of both of those things. I live in the question…more will be revealed. I stay steady on my path. Sobriety first… all things will fall into place.

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