The Short Bus 11/9/19

Observations by Richard Bleil

Let me open up by saying that, no, this is not going to be some inappropriate humor about students who for one reason or another had to ride the proverbial “short bus” normally associated with developmental challenges. The point is more observations on how we tend to look for things.

See, I was at my bus stop, waiting for my bus, number 55. Normally, it’s a regular sized bus, long, under powered, unwieldy, two doors (one in the front and one in the back), you know…a bus. But this day was odd. Up rolled a short bus, a little bus that I would ordinarily assume is for special purposes.

Instead of the normal electronic marquis denoting route 55, there were two simple reflective numbers for identification. I almost missed it.

Not because it wasn’t big and unruly in its own right, but because, frankly, it wasn’t what I was expecting.

Men have a reputation. Well, honestly, men have a lot of reputations, and most well-deserved, but the one of which I speak is the ability of men to stare directly at what they are seeking, without seeing it. I think I have this one figured out.

See, I almost missed the bus because it wasn’t what I was expecting. It was different from the bus I had fixed in my mind, so my brain kind of screened it out. The same thing happened a day later as I looked for aspirin. I thought I had a small opaque white bottle of aspirin, but, in fact, it was a large clear plastic bottle. Seemingly impossible to miss, but I looked for it, in a very small bag, for about fifteen minutes. Not because I didn’t see it, not because it was hidden, but because it wasn’t what I was expecting to see. It wasn’t what I thought it would look like, so my brain screened it out.

I wonder what else we tend to overlook when it’s not what we are expecting to see. I’ve known many “meat and potato” people and can’t help but wonder how much they overlook foods because it’s not beef. I have to admit, I’m something of a food experimentalist. There isn’t much I won’t try, including things that might be considered “gross” by American standards. As it turns out, I love things like tripe (intestine) in Pho, and goat in Indian food. Sushi and Sashimi is amazing. But I see it. Walking down the street, I see these restaurants. They’re not screened out.

But, sadly, I have the same weaknesses as most men. I can’t help but wonder if I’m so alone because I’ve overlooked opportunities to be with wonderful women because they didn’t fit what I expected a significant other to look like. How many opportunities for career paths have I neglected because they weren’t what I thought I wanted that might have led to a brighter future than I currently find myself in? How many events have I missed, friends have I lost or opportunities for learning have passed me by.

All because it wasn’t what I thought I was looking for.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting anybody give up what they have. Sometimes men notice too much. Well, not just men, actually, but it’s too common for somebody with a great life partner to suddenly notice somebody inappropriate. Believe me, I get it. Somebody attractive comes into our sphere of notice, and if there is mutual attraction, suddenly we convince ourselves that there is something there. I get the need for excitement, or looking to somebody new to fulfill something missing in a relationship, but the reality is that the new person is probably not going to be able to fill that void. When the relationship with a significant other first began, s/he was the new and exciting thing in our life. So, what happened? Maybe, they stop becoming what we expect to see for “exciting” or “sexy”, and as such, maybe we just don’t see them anymore. The sad thing is that this new person will probably end up becoming invisible as well, because it’s not that person we see, it’s the “new”. Once that wears off, the excitement will be gone, and not only is there a risk of losing the new person, but we also risk the life partner who has been there all along.

Maybe this blog is too preachy. I don’t know, but the point is, I suspect that our “blind spot” is because of what we think we are looking for, not what is actually there. Maybe this is deep, maybe it’s obvious. Or, maybe it’s garbage. It’s all in what we see.

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