I have a really useful skill. I don’t think I’m unique in this skill. In fact, I think most of us probably have it in some form or another. It’s called willful blindness.
I realised that I had this skill a few weeks ago when I was moving from the room that I used to stay in because of the Big Boss’ impending arrival. The lady who cooks and cleans around here had to get into the room to clean before the Big Boss came. As I let her into the room, I finally opened my eyes and looked at it. I had been keeping the narrow portion of the room that I was using clean and tidy: the floor around the bed that I slept on and the table I was using to keep my toiletries. That was it. I had lived in that room for 4 months without really processing the parts of it that I wasn’t using.
Like the years of accumulated dust on the other furniture in the room. Or the dirt coating the windows and the other areas up high. I had willfully blinded myself to the grossness outside of my little area for the entire time that I was living in that room.
This isn’t a new skill that I’ve developed since I’ve been in Indonesia. I’ve used it in other ways before. Upon reflection, I have to admit that I use it whenever I have to live in conditions that I don’t like but that I feel I either can’t change or shouldn’t have to work to change. Like when I used to live with someone and they would leave their clothes all over the floor, adding more clothes on top of those clothes every day. It bothered me but I blinded myself to it and stepped over and around the mess. I blinded myself to a point where I could live with it without having to do anything about it.
The same thing is happening now in the room I moved to. It’s less filthy because it’s smaller than the other room. But there is still dirt in high places (and some low ones). However, I choose not to look in those places because I’m not doing another cleaning like I’ve done twice before, because I shouldn’t have to. I didn’t come to Indonesia to keep cleaning years’ worth of other people’s dirt. No, thank you. So I keep the parts of the room that I use clean and I ignore the rest.
I do it too in the general areas of the house. For example, when people don’t wash up after themselves in the kitchen, or leave out uneaten food. Or in the bathroom that I now share, which is almost roach-free and relatively clean, but is filthy from the window level up. I don’t look at it, I don’t see it and I don’t process it. Willful blindness.
On the 1 hand, this skill is very useful because I wouldn’t be able to stay in my current living situation for 1 minute, much less 7 months, if I didn’t make myself willfully blind. It’s not that I get to a point where these conditions become acceptable or normal to me, because I don’t think they’re ever acceptable or normal. But this is the only way that I can exist in this house and not be miserable or turning up my nose every day.
But then, I have to ask myself, what else am I being willfully blind about in my life? What could I be ignoring to my detriment? I don’t know. This is 1 of those ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ situations so there’s nothing really that I can do about that. Except, now that I’m awake and aware of my skillful willful blindness, I can examine situations (or myself) to see if I’m ignoring anything important. And, of course, I have to depend on God to show me things I need to see that I don’t know I’m blinding myself to.
I’ve decided that I’m not going to worry about it. Going forward, I consciously choose to be willfully blind when it suits my purposes – like here, now, in this house. Otherwise, I’ll change – myself, my surroundings, my circumstance. My whatever. With God’s help, I’ll change. As for my other blind spots, the ones I don’t know I have, I’ll trust Him to unveil my eyes as needed and to watch my back always.
2 thoughts on “Willful Blindness”
This wouldn’t be a problem if they did proper cleaning. You do enough already.
I agree. Hence the blindness. I just can’t make myself see it.