I am going to throw out two concepts for you to contemplate: To Understand and To Stand Under. Got ’em? Take a moment and consider these two concepts. To help in your contemplation, let’s use each one in a sentence: “I understand that there is a bridge.” And “There is a bridge that I stand under.” How are these two concepts different? How are these two concepts similar?
Both of these concepts are about proximity. To understand there is a bridge is to know that a bridge exists. What that bridge looks like, you don’t know. Where that bridge is located, you don’t know. What that bridge spans, you don’t know. All you know is that a bridge exists.
To stand under a bridge is to know that a bridge exists. Yet, you will also know what the bridge looks like. You will also know where the bridge is located. And, you will also know what the bridge spans. You will know all of this information because of your proximity to the bridge. You are literally standing under the bridge. As opposed to merely a mental exercise of acknowledging the reality of a bridge that spans over something and leads somewhere.
Why is this important? Because your life is all about proximity. How many things in your life do you understand? How many things in your life do you stand under? The things, in your life, that you understand are further away from you than the things, in your life, that you stand under. That is to say, there are certain things in your proximity, like your age, your race, your sex, your genetics, your faith, your likes, your talents, etc. And there are other things in your life that aren’t in your proximity because of your age, your race, your sex, your genetics, your faith, your likes, your talents, etc. You simply understand that these other things exist. One proximity is no better or worse than any other proximity. Standing under something doesn’t make you better or worse than someone who merely understands something.
This is important because none of us can stand under everything. But all of us can understand everything. If we choose. We need each other. I need to understand the things in your proximity, that I will never stand under. And you need to understand the things in my proximity, that you will never stand under. In order for this to happen, each of us needs to be willing to listen and learn. Your goal is not to stand under everything. For this is an impossibility. Your goal is to be in relationship with others, to listen to others, so that you can understand all of the things that you don’t stand under.