Trusting our own reason is something that can become more difficult as we age and requires conscious practice to improve. If you give a two-year-old child a popsicle, it will see it as something finite and therefore there is no hurry to consume it in its preferred frozen form. My son used to put his popsicle on a plate so he could come back to it and wander off as toddlers do only to come back to find his popsicle was no longer a popsicle but a gooey mess.
We would try to prevent the popsicle from melting by encouraging him to eat it while it was still frozen. Sadly, our efforts failed as the popsicle would ultimately end up melted on a plate. So, once he set the popsicle down, we decided it was fair game and someone else would eat it. Our son would come back looking for his popsicle and find an empty clean plate. He knew right away that his popsicle had been stolen by one of his family members. We tried to tell him that we ate it because it was going to melt but that logic failed to persuade him. Theft was theft.
One day we were out of clean plates, so we gave our son a cup to put his popsicle in. He didn’t even try to eat it in its frozen state but carefully set it down and came back to check on it several times (probably to make sure we didn’t steal it). Once it was melted, he threw the stick in the garbage and drank the melted popsicle with much delight. Turns out he doesn’t like his popsicles frozen.
Our son’s ability to reason was based on his experience. The more experience he had with popsicles the easier it was for him to navigate the process to get what he wanted, a melted popsicle. I believe all children possess the ability to use reason before then can even talk and around age seven they can apply logic and formulate complex thought processes to get what they want without having to act it out. I.e., simply asking me to put the popsicle in the microwave.
Emotion makes things more complicated. Around twelve years old, emotions, logic, and reason try to merge and what comes of it is generally explosive. The ability to formulate complex thoughts now must take into consideration what other people think. Or at least that how it feels at the time. What will people think if I prefer to drink my popsicle instead of licking it? So-and-so said that it’s no longer a popsicle if it’s melted that it’s really juice. Do I just want juice? Life gets complicated as we transition from childhood to adulthood.
We had the carpet cleaners at our house yesterday. We did a poor job preparing and spent about 30 minutes running around trying to get everything off the floor and ready for the cleaners. The laundry basket went into our bathroom. Books that were found under the bed went on top of the laundry basket in our bathroom. The winter coat that was behind the bookshelf went on top of the books that were on top of the laundry basket in our bathroom. By the time the cleaners arrived, we could hardly open the door to the bathroom as we had collected so many random objects that had no place.
We made it through, and our carpets got cleaned. We reassembled our house and life went on. Today as we rushed through our morning routine in order to get ready to bring our kids to soccer and swimming, life felt overwhelming. We couldn’t find our son’s soccer jersey. Our first thought was that it was misplaced during our mad rush to prepare for the carpet cleaners.
My husband quickly found another shirt that was the same color and declared that the other jersey could not be found and that we had to go, so this would have to do. It would have been easy to agree with him, but I fought the urge. There was no reason for the jersey to be lost. That didn’t make sense. We don’t keep the jersey on the floor, so it certainly wasn’t swept up in frenzy preparing for the cleaners. There was no dirty laundry, and I was certain that it had made it home from his last practice.
Despite my desire to take the path of least resistance and leave without the jersey, I said that it was not lost and that we would find it. I went upstairs an as my husband had told me, it was not in his closet. I really couldn’t think of where else it could be so I did the next reasonable thing I could think of; I asked my son.
My son thought hard for a moment and said that it had to be in the closet. I had to practice restraint in not correcting him as both my husband and I had just looked there. I asked him to show me, and he did. The jersey was hanging up in a part of the closet where we don’t normally put clothes as it’s hard to see when the door is open. We rejoiced that we found the jersey and we were off to soccer.
Trusting reason takes practice. It is easy to get swept up in other people’s ideas of why things are the way they are or to simply skip the thought part all together and treat it as a problem that needs a solution.
Today I will focus on trusting my own reason and take time to think through before going along with path of least resistance.