I moved to Idyllwild on July 9 and was privileged to sit in on the County Service Area 36 meetings July 14 and 27, at which recreation was discussed.

Locals say they brought out “the best and worst of Idyllwild,” but they were a learning laboratory for me. Since Idyllwild seems to be home to both appetizing restaurants and thinking people, I offer the following as food for thought.

  1. No matter how much we desire them to be, things are seldom simple. Issues are seldom black and white. There are usually unseen layers of complexity. Utilizing categories of black and white tends to remove layers of useful complexity from the issue being discussed, such as when we use the words “authentic” versus “phony.” Neither seems helpful in promoting a richer understanding of another.
  2. Passion is a powerful good; but passion without self-awareness can be dangerous. It’s hard to hear how others hear us, but it can be helpful to try. George Santayana underscored the need for awareness in his humorous remark, “We cannot know who first discovered water, but we can be certain it was not the fish.” Passion and self-awareness can lead to good outcomes.
  3. Hurting people hurt people. I have seldom been injured by those who were not first injured themselves. That enables me to approach others with compassion and inquiry instead of condescension and anger. I find my own lingering anger most exhausting. When it lingers long enough to morph into bitterness, it is self-destructive. A Bantu proverb states, “The bitter heart eats its owner.”
  4. Part of the solution to being wounded is forgiveness, a civil, not necessarily religious expression. When we are able to let something go and forgive the one who has wounded us, we often discover that we have set a prisoner free. Later we realize we were the prisoner. The chains that bind us result from real or imagined mistreatment. It doesn’t matter which.
  5. We usually realize we could have always handled a situation better after we’ve mishandled it. That’s why experience is a hard teacher, she gives the test first and the lesson afterward. I’ve learned a lot of lessons after I’ve failed a lot of tests. I need grace.

My new town energizes me. I hope in the weeks ahead we can move forward together for the greater good, even if we realize that the greater good may not be our own.

Ted Ewing, Ph.D.