The Straight Line Myth

From the time we are young, we are told that we should do those things, take those steps that will get us to where we should go. The message is that there is a straight line that, if we follow it, we will succeed. I suspect this is one of the great myths that adults tell children, one of the great myths that most of us have assimilated into our understanding of life and living. Let’s think about that for a few minutes.

If You Can’t See, Reach Low and Slow

Let me say up-front that I realize that you may not be able to see, but despite that, you never bump things, knock things over nor spill stuff. Well, good for you. Your skill set is definitely advanced relative to mine. I mentioned earlier that many people who can’t see have skills far better than mine and skills I just don’t have.

I sometimes bump things, knock things over and occasionally spill stuff. Here is the first and most important point. So does everyone else, whether they can see or not. And whether you can see or not, the reason is most always the same … carelessness.

That’s unfair? You can’t see, so everyone should cut you a little slack?

You’re right, and most people will cut you some slack, although it’s still annoying and inconvenient for them, especially if they have to clean up your mess. Better to ramp up your skill set some and get better at not bumping, knocking and spilling.

Here’s a technique that will help. It won’t prevent all of those little accidents, but will reduce their frequency. Before reaching for anything, even if you just put it there yourself, hesitate just a second to consider where you think it is. Now reach low and slow. Slide your hand on the table or along the path toward whatever you are reaching for. This serves two purposes. First, when you touch the glass or other object, you won’t be moving your hand fast enough to knock it over or to spill whatever is in the container. At least, let’s hope your hand was moving slow enough.

That’s the slow part. The low part is so, when you do touch the glass or other object, you touch it near its bottom. It’s that center of gravity thing. Things are just less likely to tumble over or spill from a little bump near their bottom.

There is an extra benefit to low and slow. If when you touch whatever you are looking for, it scoots or rolls away, it probably won’t go as far. That usually makes it easier to find, if you need to feel around for it. Even then, keep it low and slow while trying to find it.

But, if you can’t see, slow matters most, right after taking a second to think about what you are reaching for, where you are headed or what you want to do. If you can see, you just look and do. If you can’t see, you need to first make a calculation and then act on your calculation, thoughtfully and intentionally.

Three important elements in your calculation are distance, position and risk. There are other elements, but these are the three most used. How far away is it? Where is it in relation to things I already know about? What is the risk to me or to other things if I get the calculation wrong?

I could go into more detail, but I suspect that you get the point. Stop a second to calculate distance, position and risk, and then reach low and slow.

If it is to be, I’ll think first and then reach low and slow to get what I want for me.