Misdirection: Keeping Your Ducks in a Row. The Authors Collection.
November 2, 2013
When one of our granddaughters was little, Del and I would sit with her while she took a bath. She had a bathtub full of little yellow duckies and her favorite game was lining them all up on the edge of the tub.
Once she had them in place, Del would point behind her and say, “Look at that!” As she turned to look, he would plunk the ducks into the water. She would turn back, notice they had fallen, laugh, and put them back in place.
Every night this misdirection game would go on through most of the bath time, with everyone enjoying the fun.
Nature makes great use of misdirection. A mother grouse will pretend to be hurt in order to lead the onlooker away from her nest to protect her chicks. The squirrel pretends to bury food supplies so that the real hiding place can remain secret.
Magicians make misdirection into an art. The result is magical and entertaining.
However, a misdirection game played with children is very different from the intentional misdirection played by adults, on adults. It is a misdirection tactic when we are distracted by someone saying, “Look at that,” and miss what is going on where we aren’t looking.
It’s a dangerous misdirection tactic when we agree with ideas that pit nations, families, and individuals against each other. This kind of misdirection distracts us so we don’t notice that there are people skilled at playing the “Look at that” game, while doing something that benefits only them when we look away.
Eventually, our granddaughter figured out that the falling ducks had something to do with the words, “Look at that,” so she tried misdirecting us. However, she had missed a key point. Instead of staring at her Poppa when she said, “Look at that,” she turned to look at what she was pretending to point to, leaving Del free to plunk her ducks into the water.
As adults, aren’t we making the same mistake she made, pointing, and then looking where we pointed, when we take sides? Aren’t we misdirecting ourselves when we complain, argue, and worry, missing the real action going on while we are distracted by these emotions.
Imagine what a difference it would make if we didn’t play the misdirection game. If we didn’t look, when “they” pointed and said, “Look at that,” and laughed instead at the attempt to move our attention away to what they want us to see, instead of what we need to see.
In a more spiritual vein, we are misdirected by our physical senses when we believe what they tell us, instead of realizing that they tell us what we believe.
We are misdirected by the stories told to us and the stories we tell to others that aren’t true. Any story that is divisive, or about duality, is misdirection away from the evidence that we are all one, living on the same planet sharing in the same destiny.
For me, if what I am asked to look at does not begin in the premise of harmony and equality for all life, then I want to be instantly aware that there is a dangerous misdirection going on, whether I am doing it to myself, or another is misdirecting me.
Misdirection is a wonderful game when played with children. Perhaps we are teaching them to become aware of misdirection. In that case, we need to be students of the game long into adulthood so that we become better at staying aware of what truth is, and what is misdirection.
When we are skilled at recognizing misdirection, when we don’t turn and look every time someone says, “Look at that,” then all our ducks lined up on the edge of the tub will not be continually plopped into the water, with the only people laughing the ones that have fooled us into looking away.
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