Thursday, February 01, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Wait Just a Second

This isn’t a post about spectacular tumbles. It’s about the way our minds work and process information. See, I can be normal. I'm not twisted all the time.

One of my favorite patients came to see me today. A routine visit so he was feeling fine. Since he’s pretty healthy I only see him every once in awhile.

He stepped into my x-ray room and we took a few 8 x 10 glossies. We usually get an annual chest x-ray and then while they are dressed (or undressed) for that we jet them across the hall for an EKG. It usually works well but sometimes the EKG’s get bogged down and the patient has to wait awhile in my room. I’ll come out of my dark room and find patients weeping on the scale, playing with my model of the spine or reading medical posters.

Today, I stepped out and my patient said. “Can I ask you what that is? Is it a level?” He pointed to my clock. It’s a drug clock so it has product information on the face and sported the colors of the medication. Often drug paraphernalia is gimmicky, funky numbers, odd shapes, usually not your normal items.

So I stared where he pointed. “Well…it’s the second hand, it fell off.”

He turned red and laughed. “Oh, I thought it was a statement about how the drug leveled something out and the level was crooked so it wasn’t good advertising.”

Isn’t that funny? Our surroundings determine the way we look at things sometimes. He expected some weird gimmick so he didn’t even consider that the item was what it was. In another setting he wouldn’t even has questioned the fact that it was a second hand. It was that obvious. But because he saw things differently in light of his location, he questioned what he knew to be true or likely.

How’s that for a spiritual lesson? Do you ever second guess what you believe to be true because of your surroundings? Does your faith feel foreign in some situations? Do you avoid entering a church because you expect that reality changes and things will be skewed, that somehow in a church a second hand isn’t a second hand anymore?