I was a bit disparaging of poor Dr. Weiner in my last post. Here’s a better college story. First day, Psych 101 with Seymour Lockhart. All Dr. Lockhart did was teach us one word: paradigm. It’s a simple, yet complicated concept. For fun I simplified it this way. I pictured the paradigms as all kinds of cool eyeglasses, cat eyes and round-circle spectacles, horn rims, frame-free and tinted or not. Bifocals, trifocals. They ranged from barely corrected to coke-bottle thick.
What really made the paradigms groovy, and where it started to get complicated, was that none of us knew we were wearing them. Imagine us all walking around with our kooky frames, getting weird looks as we looked weirdly at others. And none of us having a clue! Wouldn’t that be funny if you were watching from the outside?! (Clue)
At the time, I didn’t know I was wearing the frames called “grew up in small town then went to college in a bigger town with pretty smart kids from all over the world.”
Freshman year I saw a prince and a bagel for the first time in my life. One was not more interesting than the other. They were equally novel things crossing my wide-eyed line of vision. It didn’t seem strange to me that I’d never seen either thing before. Life without bagels and princes was normal until it wasn’t. As much as my undergraduate degree, I was proud to be one of the first in my family, on both sides, to have eaten a bagel. Potatoes were awesome, but they weren’t the only staple food in the world. Higher education may be going out of fashion in 2017, but I value mine as dearly as I value my gigantic Polish nose.
I am grateful my family ingrained in my brain, from kindergarten on, that college was my destiny. I never would disparage learning. What I meant to disparage was snobbishness. In my heart of hearts, though, I forgive snobbishness because of Lightness and Psych 101. Poor snobby Dr. Weiner from my last post had only been peering out as he had his whole life, from his wrap-around-concave-worldview specs.
All of us do that. We have no other choice.
Because of that special lesson I received on my first day of school, though, I still try as often as possible to pry off my paradigm. I try to wear that of another. You can never take your paradigm off completely, though.
Can we at least know we’re wearing it, remain aware of its slight but definite weight across the bridge of our gigantic or delicate noses? Can we feel it affecting our eyes and opinions?
It all worked out perfectly for me, but I do wonder about Dr. Weiner. I wonder if things wouldn’t have worked out better for him if he’d reviewed freshman Psych with his colleague before teaching mental illness to me and the rest of the seniors. Maybe if he’d lost his paradigm of must-get-PhD-at-all-costs, he would have enjoyed working outside with his hands. Maybe he could have rid himself of glasses for his book-tired eyes and their pink, leaky rims.