A Story about Assumptions, Beliefs and Knowing

Golden Ponds has four lakes, a river, miles of paths to walk on – both dirt and cemented- and is a popular place.

Today the parking lot is full. It’s no surprise — it’s a balmy 45° after a week of temperatures close to zero — and everyone is enjoying the warmer weather. You could feel the sunshine again!

After a long walk, I head back across the bridge towards the ponds and parking lot. I notice a couple staring at the middle lake. As I come closer, I realize why; four children are running around on the frozen pond. Two adults that I assume are their parents stand on the side of the lake watching them.

I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped open. I don’t know if one can be a little horrified, but that’s how I would describe my feeling. I say to the couple standing staring, “Do you think that’s dangerous?”

“We were just talking about that.” Then comes a resounding YES in unison as they shake their heads in disapproval.

I keep walking towards my car, wondering what I would do if the ice suddenly opened and the kids fell in. A woman walks briskly past me on the right – she is disgusted, “Stupid children,” she says. I tell her the parents are on the side of the pond, “They are? Where?” I point. “Well, we’ll just have to not worry about it.” She keeps going, probably already having gotten in her 10,000 steps in with that pace.

Directly ahead of where she and I talked, and probably in earshot, stands a man leaning on a bicycle watching the children on the ice.

I approach him and ask, “Are we all thinking the same thing?” meaning, but not saying, it’s certainly not safe for those kids to be on the ice.

“I hope so,” he answers. Then he surprises me, “Two of those children are mine.”

“Do you think it’s safe for them to be out there?”

“Oh yes. We’ve had under 10° days for over a week; that ice is at least 5 inches thick” – he holds his thumb and forefinger out to show me how thick the ice is.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I wouldn’t go out there.”

He pointed to other spots on the lake with larger footprints, “See, people have been walking on it.” It was true; I saw a lot of footprints on the ice. To me, that’s not a case for ice safety.

I think to myself, “NOPE.”

He continues, “I want to ride my bike on it.” And smiles.

As I walk away, I see him heading down to the ice.

I found the whole thing to be a good metaphor.

Many of us assumed the kids being on the ice was dangerous and that they shouldn’t be out there. The father was confident it was safe. He knew the ice was thick and not going to crack. He would not allow his children to play out there if there was a chance of them falling in.

But, for we who believe going out onto a frozen pond is dangerous, no matter what, without having or considering the factors that determine the safety of the situation, it is flat out wrong for that to be happening. We have opinions, and by golly, we’re right.

How many times in your life have you made decisions or acted based on assumptions about a situation, person, or potential without knowing all the facts, recognizing the possibilities or tending to the unconscious internal belief systems running your thoughts? Without considering that the other people involved have also had life experiences that have brought them to this point?

Identifying old belief systems and recognizing truths and falsities in every situation is an important thing to consider.

I still wouldn’t walk out onto the ice. And I cringe at the thought of those kids being out there. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t safe.

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