I’ve said it once; I’ll say it sixteen thousand more times.  (OK, maybe this is the last time.)

Beware of our human tendency to label.

Bumper-sticker wisdom

Beware of our mind’s propensity to take a huge complex revolving globe filled with rainbow stars and lights and dazzling darkness and yawning black holes and make it linear, understandable, limited.

Beware, beware…

We live in a mystery which cannot be fathomed.  Every person or thing that we perceive cannot be boxed and packaged and explained away.  Every person you meet crossing the street who looks like (supply your label here) is really a marvelous complex human being who will never–ever–be what your mind determines it to be.

Yet determine and label and discern:  that’s what our minds do.  They assess.  They offer opinion.  They attempt to limit the mystery into statements like, “She’s a happy person.”  “He’s a pessimist.”  “She’s a thinker.”  “He’s a dreamer.”  “She’s black, he’s white, she’s annoying, she’s friendly, he’s despicable, she’s a fright, he’s a Christian, she’s a Buddhist, she’s some kind of atheist, watch out for that one–”

Black and white

On and on and on go our assessing brains, whittling away the Mystery like a woodsman carves wood into distinguishable shapes.

Our brains do this because they want to make the complex simple.  They can’t help themselves.

They sometimes like to look across the room and see two guys standing together and label them “gay” as if that means something solid, irrefutable, understandable.  They sometimes see a white-middle class woman and think they’ve got her pegged. They’ve been known to witness a Chinese woman in front of a diner and label her “Asian” without even peeking beneath the surface to dozens of other characteristics rising in and out of awareness.  They sometimes want to label Muslims in a single terrorist category without seeing individuals, unfathomable individuals, moving through the fabric of unfathomable days, some of them more peace-loving than we’ll ever dream of in our most peace-loving moments.

Infinite possibility

Our minds want to limit.  They want to stake claim.  As beings who are larger than our minds, we have to keep opening the doorway to reality as it really is–which is larger than sixteen Universes. 

I have always thought one of the functions of spirituality or religion is this expansion of thought, this gentle enlargement of the mind’s tendency to limit and control.  We start out seeing the holy and sacred in small things and keep opening our minds and hearts until the holy shines through the fabric of the entire world.

Until nothing is left out.


When the mind wants to declare a person or thing entirely evil–we can allow it, at our peril.  Or we can open our minds until we can view an afghan of essence.  In each human being lives the world.  Good and bad.  Happy and sad.  Despairing and adoring.

At times one quality comes forth stronger than others.  We often only claim we are one half of the polarity, as in “I am an optimistic person.”  Yet, look–look deeply.  I swear you’ll find your missing pessimistic part.  The part you’ve rejected in the mind’s claim to be optimistic and sunny.

Don’t get me wrong.  Discernment can be a good thing.  Discernment can be a wonderful thing.  And I am not saying that you will not look at someone or something being harmed and turn your face away.  The love that is within us always turns to embrace the whole–and if someone is being harmed we turn to assist and heal the whole.

Exposed roots

A million wars have risen and fallen away as we travel this solar system; our true “enemy” is a mind that labels and judges and polarizes and categorizes into black-and-white thinking which does not see the oranges, yellows, bluebirds, forget-me-nots, snow on the pumpkin, garden tomatoes and golden sunsets. 

If I have a single prayer today it is:  Open this mind to include it all, to allow it all, without pushing anything away.  Open this heart to love even wider.  May I not resist attempting to open my heart to even what is judged unforgivable.  May compassion continue to blossom in the face of suffering–and may my decisions and actions unfold from the largest awareness possible.  May the next right action emerge like a butterfly from a chrysalis. 

(And if you give me a few more seconds–or a few good years–I will try to open my heart and mind wider and wider in an effort to truly honor the mind’s black-and-white thinking, the hard gavels of judgement.  In which case this rant would no longer be necessary.  Only gentle compassion would remain.  Stay tuned.)

You listenin', Mind?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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45 Responses to Rant

  1. Brenda Hardie says:

    Wow…I love this…

    “We start out seeing the holy and sacred in small things and keep opening our minds and hearts until the holy shines through the fabric of the entire world.

    Until nothing is left out.”

    Wow…just going to sit and let this all sink in….

  2. Barb says:

    Well, I don’t consider this a rant, Kathy – more like a gentle reminder of Truth. I like to think I’m an “open” person, seeing the wide range of possibilities in a person or situation. BUT, I’ve had experience with the fact that I’m really NOT so open. I may have mentioned this situation to you before: A few months ago, I was walking alone in my city neighborhood (in broad daylight) when 2 young men approached me. They were of a different ethnicity than I and were dressed in hipster, “boarder” attire (baggy low rise pants, etc, etc). Immediately, I thought they were going to attack me, possibly mug me, surely insult me. Instead, they smiled as they reached me and very politely asked for my assistance. They were lost and needed directions to their destination. They thanked me profusely for my help. Needless to say, that incident is still on my mind. My Mother always said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” She was wiser than I! PS The photos are magic, esp. B & W and Everything. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Kathy. We’e getting our 3 oldest Grands on Sunday for 3 days of skiing before the holiday – I may not have time for Blogs!

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, you were one of many that didn’t call it a rant. But I was FEELING rant-like. I am glad it came off more gentle than the emotion which was surging through. I have had similar things happen, like your neighborhood encounter. It is an eye-opener for those of us who think we’re not judging. Have a GREAT time with the grandkids!!

  3. superiorecotour says:

    cool …

  4. Sybil says:

    What a wonderful, open, wise post.

    Love “everything” !

  5. Amen, amen, amen. What else can I say, but thank you for this “wisdom”–if I dare label it that–limit it in that way. Thank you.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Kathy. You are right–wisdom, wherever it arrives in our lives–can not be limited. I suppose there is an unlimited galaxy of it, if we choose to court it.

  6. suzen says:

    I agree it doesn’t sound rant-ish. I remember hearing Wayne Dyer years ago tell of his final exam in Philosophy – his last test for his doctorate. The professor said it would be open book so the class came laden with as many books as each could carry. The assignment was to write a description of yourself without the use of ANY labels. Awesome, eh? Try it sometime.

    I so agree with everything you said – and you said it beautifully!

    • Kathy says:

      I am glad that it didn’t reveal itself as simply an emotional rant. I was feeling emotional upon writing it…therein came the title. That sounds like an awesome assignment! I would have to simply stand mute and point at the moon. LOL! Happy that this resonated with you.

  7. Susan Derozier says:

    So beautiful Kathy. Your pictures and words touch deeply to that place within all of us that speaks of love, truth and compassion. Again you will touch into my dream space and end my day in peace. Thank you.

    • Kathy says:

      I love how we can touch into each other’s dream spaces. And ending the day in peace is exquisite… I love the moment of turning off the computer and relaxing into the peaceful beauty of larger awareness.

  8. Martha Bergin says:

    You’re a smart person, and you’re right! … : )

  9. Martha Bergin says:

    ….ok, I just couldn’t resist doing that!

    I love rants! Thank you for yours.

  10. Elisa's Spot says:

    yesterday, before I left the house, I was thinking and pondering and came across these beautiful rings that had engraved upon them…all who wander are not lost

    I had forgotten these words, given to me by a ‘teacher’. I think that I need them, especially now. Thank you.

  11. Karma says:

    Wow Kathy – powerful post today. I can’t help but wonder if there was an incident that sparked this post. It would seem unusual to me for a post like this to come unbidden to one’s mind. Your prayer is difficult, but worthy.

  12. Karen Casebeer says:

    I’ve not posted on your blog before, but read it faithfully. I’m an adjunct university instructor who teaches an online class called Diversity in Society. This blog entry really speaks to so many important issues that we discuss in my class and I’m going to post the link in my classroom as good food for thought. Thanks for your wisdom.

    • Kathy says:

      This is so wonderful for you to do, Karen! Thank you so much. It would be fun if some of your students commented, too, and offered their thoughts. I appreciate you reading…and for including this in your class.

  13. holessence says:

    Kathy – You’ve served up delicious food for thought, yet again. (Are some of your photos from San Diego?)…

  14. P.j. grath says:

    Your photographs were brilliantly chosen to illustrate your points, Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      Thanks, Pamela. I found some old photos from 2009 and put them through Picasa photo editing (didn’t know about that back then) and spruced ’em up!

  15. Heather says:

    I don’t find this to be a rant at all. More like a reminder or just sound advice. Brings to mind an “internet poster” I saw the other day that said “You can’t judge my choices without understanding my reasons.”

    • Kathy says:

      Don’t judge someone unless you’ve walked 20 miles in their moccasins. Or is that a mile? Glad it came off as a reminder and not a rant.

      • Heather says:

        Is “20 miles” the saying up your way? I heard it as “…you’ve walked two moons.” (Also, that’s an excellent book for young readers.) Either way, it’s a good sentiment, and one I find helps when I’m angry at fellow drivers 😉

        • Kathy says:

          I think I probably made up the 20 miles part, Heather. LOL! I have seen the two moons book in the library. Maybe even read it? Good reminder when driving!

  16. Kala says:

    Wonderful post. Yes it is really easy to label people within a few seconds of seeing them and that’s kind of a shame.

  17. Dawn says:

    I would go so far as to say that most people are not lost…wanderers are the lucky ones who see all.

  18. Dawn says:

    Meant to say that most WANDERING people are not lost…

    • Kathy says:

      That is so true! May we not label wanderers as one way or another. Some are lost and some are found. Some are trying to see what’s over the next ridge and others are falling in the swamp. There are as many wanderers in the world as we can imagine. Thanks for making this point.

  19. Pingback: When intentions “fail” perhaps something else “succeeds” « Lake Superior Spirit

  20. “Our brains do this because they want to make the complex simple. They can’t help themselves.” Oh my, this is so true…

    Kathy, you wrote a divine essay, not a rant! The way you use words, illustrations, and metaphors delivers heart-opening, wise, and powerful messages that leave me humbled and thinking more deeply.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Barbara. To think: a divine essay can come out of a rant! Anything is possible~~the divine can use even our rants to create wisdom. I am glad when we are led to think more deeply.

  21. Pingback: Creating Creation « Elisa's Spot

  22. Sean says:

    Black and white may seem easy to identify. This is black. This is white. But actually…there are so many blacks and so many whites. There are rich blacks, warm blacks, cool blacks. When painting, you get the best blacks when you mix them yourself instead of using a black straight out of the tube.

    And white…so many beautiful whites. Just look at your snowy photos. Warm whites, cool whites, bright blue-whites…eggshell and bone-white and the beautiful whites of a mottled plaster wall.

    And then of course there is color (what we think of as color…anything not “black” or “white”)…which we try so hard to identify with names. But really, every color looks different to every person. Our eyes are each unique. So applying names is so difficult. How many times have you pointed at something and called it green, and someone says, no it’s blue. So you compromise and do the sensible thing and say it’s blue-green … or is it more green-blue?

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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