Patch Adams - Pearls of Wisdom

Have you seen it? I highly recommend it! There is a scene in the movie where the character, Arthur Mendelson, was trying to get “Patch” to look beyond the obvious to find the solution to a problem. Arthur held up four fingers and asked Patch how many he could see. Of course, he said "Four". If he only looked at the fingers themselves, he would always see only four. Yet if he looked beyond them, he would see eight. (Try it!)

Arthur Mendelson:

"You're focusing on the problem! If you focus on the problem, you can't see the solution! Never focus on the problem! See what no one else sees. See what everyone chooses not to see...out of fear, conformity or laziness. See the whole world anew each day! (Patch Adams, the movie)

When we over focus on the problem we often miss the solution. Have you noticed that often the solution to a problem comes to us in the middle of the night? Or we wake up the next morning knowing what to do?

When we take a step back and view a challenging situation as though we are watching a move, sometimes we see things a little clearer. Other aspects come into focus. By taking our eyes off the “symptom” or the “problem” it is then that we often find a solution. We must look beyond the surface to find what lies underneath.

See what others choose not to see out of fear. Fear of what? The truth, perhaps? If we see the truth in a situation it may require action on our part. It could be that we may have to acknowledge or accept an aspect of the problem that we truly have no power over to change. That can be painful when it involves others. When we can see painful or deadly outcomes to their choices and the responsible party does not.

Or perhaps it would mean recognizing something in our selves that may need to be addressed, such as a serious personality flaw. Sometimes seeing beyond a negative situation may mean recognizing the part we personally played in creating the situation.

Fear could also stop us from learning. Because once we learn and understand a given truth, once we “see” the benefits of the knowledge, we are then obligated to apply it to our lives. It may mean changing our lifestyle. Breaking away from the familiar, or what we have always known to be true. This can be disabling for some.

Change for many has a certain level of fear attached to it. Changing our life may mean giving up dangerous practices such as excessive alcohol use, drugs, or an immoral lifestyle. Or maybe it is just changing our way of thinking or the way we do things. We may lose so-called friends in the process because they may not agree with the changes we make. The old saying that ignorance is bliss can cost us our life. Sometimes a change can save our lives, although it may take all our inner strength to do so. However, we have to “see” it before we can do it.

See what others choose not to see out of conformity. It can be difficult to buck the tide so to speak. To go against the norm or an entrenched belief, takes conviction and courage. Some of the greatest minds have been non-conformist. Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, and the real Hunter “Patch” Adams, just to name a few.

Aristotle, a famous Greek philosopher and scientist of the fourth century B.C.E., taught that the earth could never hang in empty space. Instead, he taught that the heavenly bodies were each fixed to the surface of solid, transparent spheres. Aristotle was considered the foremost thinker of his day. However, Sixteenth-century philosopher Giordano Bruno dared to challenge Aristotle’s concept. He wrote that it was “a ridiculous notion which children might conceive.” But disagreeing with Aristotle was a dangerous game in those days—Bruno was burned alive for spreading his unorthodox ideas about the universe. We now know that these early ideas of Bruno were accurate. He saw what others chose not to see out of conformity or fear.

See what others choose not to see out of laziness. See the whole world anew each day. To learn something new takes time and effort. Getting to know someone on a deeper level or taking time to help others also takes time and effort. Don’t allow laziness to prevent you from the joys that come from new knowledge, developing a talent, making a new friend, or the effort it takes to keep an old one.

Sometimes it can take great effort to see the world anew each day. When so much heartache goes on around us, or if we deal with clinical depression, it may take all our strength to see the world in a more positive light. It is so much easier to give in to the negative, but it is far more rewarding to see the positive in ourselves, in others and in the world around us.

We don’t have to be hailed as great men to “see what others choose not to see”. We can apply that principle in our daily lives. As we deal with family, friends, workmates, classmates or strangers, put forth the effort to look beyond the surface. Beyond their clothing, their actions, their exterior emotions, to see that underneath it all, there may lay a person with great depth, or in great pain from life’s experiences, or someone who may need direction in life and would respond to a simple act of kindness.

Therefore, dig beneath the surface. Understand the complex. See what others choose not to see. Master your fears. Extend your comfort level. Widen out in your love for others. Energize your motivation. Act on a positive feeling. Act on new truths. See the world anew each day.

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