It can trip us up if we’re not careful. The fine print. All of the disclosures and disclaimers, conditions and clauses that caution us of the potential pitfalls and slippery slopes that lie all but hidden in whatever it is we’re about to agree to and be bound by. Do we read all that tiny print each and every time? Probably not. Would we do well to? Absolutely. Could the fine print keep us from getting entangled in snares that might harm us? Quite likely. But we think we’ll be okay, and we know we have better things to do with our time.
It's such a great deal, we’re told. But there’s a catch, isn’t there, we ask. Well… yes, there’s a bit of a hitch, we learn. Ah, we say, then it’s really not such a great deal, now, is it? More is required of us than we first thought. The almost-hidden conditions turn the transaction from sweet to sour. Full disclosure makes all the difference. Detecting the catch and avoiding it… or willingly accepting it.
Of course, there’s not always fine print to read. Much of what we commit to in life doesn’t come with formal agreements and contracts. Many of us get ourselves into extensive and sometimes expensive obligations we didn’t anticipate being so. Marriage is a big one. Working with others or under someone. Joining an organization. We may believe we’re signing on for something wonderful. Yet over time it morphs into something else. Or we do. What was once life-giving now suffocates. What was previously a source of joy becomes edged with dread. If only we had known…
But we can’t know the future, can we? We can’t fully anticipate what change will be like. And we simply can’t force reality to be what we have it in our heads it should be. Yet it’s nearly impossible to go through life without committing ourselves to anything or anyone. Not much of a life. Not the way we are wired. So, it’s best to figure out in our heads and hearts what’s worth the effort and potential agony. What joys offset the possible heartache. What values sustain us should other supports fail. Who to companion with as we travel through thick and thin.
Religions and those who endorse them tread in troubling waters if promises of pain-free peace and prosperity are touted without the means to back them up. And what human enterprise could? Not a one. But in an ancient text* we find it written that the Author of all life doesn’t forget a single being which breathes. We’re etched in the palm of that One’s hand. Now that’s some mighty fine print!