Notes on the Journey

Monday, March 18, 2013

Stuck in My Perception

There's a quote from Albert Einstein, which I'll include here:  "We can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."  So true.

I have an electric stove.  I've always had gas stoves before, so this is new for me.  Plus, for the last thirty-five years or so, I've not done much cooking.  But, my whole relativity to how stoves and ovens work, is based on how ones that run on gas work.  I've been convinced that my current electric stove needed a new thermostat since I moved in, which is now three months ago.  Things took too long to cook and then didn't always turn out the way I thought they should.  A friend of mine suggested getting an oven thermometer to check the oven temperature with, which I did.  According to this thermometer, which I spent quite a bit on in a very upscale cooking store, the temperature of my oven was way off.

I reported what seemed to be a thermostat problem to my apartment complex management office.  The property management crew came by more than once to check the oven, but with their somewhat limited knowledge and skills with stoves and ovens, they weren't really sure what to do.  They ended up ordering a new heating coil for the oven, thinking that, since they didn't know what else to do, it might fix the problem.  It did not fix the problem, and they ended up switching out my stove for the one from the vacant apartment next door to me.  I had the same problem with the alternative stove from next door.  Hmmmmm.....imagine that.

I continued complaining to the apartment office, hoping to get a trained and certified technician to come and check out my stove.  I was told this was not possible because the complex had no agreement with the stove manufacturer and so there was no way to pay a technician.  Huh?  Okay...  I was then told that the complex was in the process of purchasing new stoves for all of the tenants, but that since I'd had so much trouble with mine, they weren't sure they wanted to buy the same brand again.  The person who was arranging the sale of the 250 stoves to my complex freaked out when the possibility that the sale would not go through was brought up.  This person, bless him, arranged for a technician to come out--just this once--to check out and fix my thermostat problem.

The technician came out and spent about an hour with me.  He had a very expensive thermometer with him that proved the one I had bought to be totally inaccurate.  It's now in the trash.  And, even though I was not wrong about the temperature in my oven varying greatly, I was told that it was not unusual for an electric oven, and that the idea was that it all evened out in the end.  Oh.  So, as it turns out, there was nothing wrong with my oven.  What was wrong, was my perception of the way my oven should be working based on my limited past experience with a different type of oven.

This is where the Einstein quote comes in.  My perceived problem was based in an erroneous mind set.  And, as long as I had that mind set, I was convinced my oven needed a new thermometer.  Until the technician came and checked out my oven and explained its workings to me, there was nothing to change my mind set...at least, from the outside.  I could have realized that the problem was with me and not the stove, but heaven forbid, after everything I'd put everyone through in regard to it, that I might be wrong.  My mind had created the problem due to a misperception, and the problem would persist until that misperception was corrected.

I had to get over myself.  I had to see the situation differently.  I had to find a new perception, a new attitude, toward the thing I had been perceiving as a problem.  We do this all the time.  I was stuck in the way I was seeing a situation, which then prohibited me from seeing any other solution than the one I thought necessary.  There actually was no problem.  I created the problem and then couldn't see my way out of it except through one avenue.  I hate that I did this.  I'm embarrassed that I did this.

The whole experience did bring me much more into consciousness about the ways in which we get stuck, though.  And, for that, I'm grateful.  I'm hoping the next time I perceive a problem, I'll be able to get myself out of the box in which I created it, and see it in a new way that will hold a solution or reveal to me my misperception.  Life will give me many opportunities to practice this, I'm sure.

We can have a spiritual experience with anything or anyone, and I had one with my stove.  My stove showed me how I get stuck in my position and am unwilling to move out of it.  My stove showed me how stubborn I can be when I think I'm right.  My stove showed me that there's more than one way to look at something.  My stove showed me that I need to pay less attention to what the dial says, and more attention to the food and how it's cooking.  I have to up my presence in relation to my stove and my food.  When something isn't going the way I think it should, I need to move off my position and consider alternatives.  I need to see where the resistance is coming from and open up to the field and allow a solution to come in.

My life is my spiritual path.  And, everything in it, including my stove, is capable of teaching me more about myself.  Because of this experience, I'm now more present and in touch with my stove; and, I'm now more present and in touch with whatever I happen to be cooking on or in it.  I'm also more aware of the ways in which I can get stuck.  The more deeply we know ourselves, the more we're able to accept ourselves, the more we're able to get out of our own way. 

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