I was introduced to a concept called the Ladder of Inference by a unique and marvelous consulting group from Dallas called Ann McGee Cooper and Associates. The essential idea behind the ladder is we all tend to make assumptions about events, build on those assumptions and make conclusions based on those assumptions sometimes without ever validating those assumptions. In other words, at times we make stuff up based on what we think we know, not what we empirically know.
Being the somewhat intuitive over reacting fellow that I am, I do this a lot, always have. The other day I was taking a shower (I’m very modest so everyone please close your eyes while reading this, and don’t go oooooh) when I heard my cell phone start beeping with a text message. Now I don’t get a lot of texts and most come from Nikkie, one of our caregivers. At the times she was taking care of Marty in Marty’s room as I showered.
Here’s how the ladder sometimes works. I get a text, I think it’s from Nikkie who knows I’m taking a shower so why would she text me, something must be wrong. My adrenalin starts to pump, slowly starting to overtake my normal good sense as I continue soaping.
My mind immediately starts to rationalize and list the calamities that might have occurred, another stroke, seizure, heart attack? I think it is most likely a seizure and Nikkie can’t leave Marty’s side so she texted me, good for her, good thinking. Now I move to, oh shit, we are going to have to up the anti-seizure meds, it’s going to make her sleepy, she won’t get out of bed and the new medicine will mask other symptoms, this really sucks.
I wash off as quickly as I can without panicking and momentarily think of running out of the bathroom with just a towel to help Nikkie and check to see if Marty is still breathing and recovering from the seizure. I decide to check the text instead. It was from Verizon telling me they had drafted my account for the amount of my bill.
I stepped down a couple of rungs on the ladder but I still hustled around quickly to dry off and dress (you can open your eyes now) because what if my superhuman intuitive powers were detecting some anomaly with Marty before it actually happened.
I walked out of the bedroom and into Marty’s room as fast as one can and still maintain cool points. Marty was dressed, sitting up in bed drinking Gatorade watching some lame move on the Hallmark channel. I said, “Everything ok?” I got, “Just fine,” from both Marty and Nikkie. I decided to step all the way down the ladder.
This is life, it’s certainly my life. I stand at the foot of the ladder of inference daily, sometimes I start climbing and stop, sometimes I get all the way to the top before I realize I don’t like heights and rational thought starts to creep in and I climb down. Ann and Duane, thanks for teaching me about the ladder. I still climb it from time to time but at least I know what I’m doing.