“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”
― C.S. Lewis
One of the biggest things that I have come to understand is the power of perception. Our perceptions shape our world based on the lens through which we view it. To take that a step further, situations in and of themselves are in a sense meaningless. Yes, meaningless. It is you that brings the meaning to it. The Universe shapes and moves itself according to the way in which you perceive it. This is much like how two people can witness the same event and have very different experiences of it.
For example, two people might witness a concert by a music artist at the same place and at the same time – side by side. One person could see the show and think that the artist did very well, was entertaining, and full of energy. The other person watching the same show might think that the artist was underwhelming, a little dull, and uncaptivating in their delivery. The first person might have left the show feeling like he had a great time, and the second person might have left feeling as though he didn’t get his money’s worth. How is it that they could have two different stories to tell from the same concert? Because, it is all subjective. If life’s situations themselves held all the meaning, we would all get the same thing from it, but we know that is not true.
The meaning that we give to life is based off of the beliefs and values that we hold. It may be hard to truly see how some things are not intrinsically good or bad. It is because we have such sure understandings of our morals and values, that it can be difficult to imagine someone else seeing what we judge to be bad, as a good thing. For example, many of us would agree that harming or killing children is a very bad thing. However, there are some societies and groups of people that will kill a newborn baby girl, for the simple fact that she is not a boy. This practice is known as sex-selective infanticide. For many of us, their actions would be bad/wrong. For them, it makes sense as the right thing to do.
We do not see things as they are, instead we see them as WE are. It is through who we are as a person that we determine what a situation or event means to us. As we change as people, so do our perceptions and our ideas of things. There was once a time in the United States of America, where formal slavery was acceptable. Not only was it acceptable but it was written law in our country. Now we have a law that states that the exact opposite is permissible. The same can be said for women’s voting rights, equal education, and other political and social issues. As we have progressed as a society, we have formed new ideas about right and wrong . What was right for us two-hundred years ago, is no longer what is right for us today. Through our personal growth, we will also find that old habits, behaviors, and beliefs that we were once accustomed to, no longer serve the truth and vision of who we are now and who it is that we choose to be.
I am currently enrolled in a poetry course and I am seeing how the interpretation of the conversations we have with one another throughout our lives, is similar to analyzing poetry. In class, we closely review various pieces to see what we notice in terms of symbolism, structure, and meaning. The great thing about it is that each reader can notice and gather significance from the poem in whichever way best sits with them. The author had a purpose and meaning behind the way he or she crafted their poem. The reader might be able to take away from the poem what the author intended or the reader might interpret a different meaning that was developed through their own unique perspective. The same is true for when we interpret the words and actions of others. We can choose to see them with love or with fear. Often misinterpretations happen because communication was received and then filtered through a lens that altered the meaning from one person to the other. The best way to avoid misinterpretations is to not make assumptions and to ask questions to clarify and be sure that both parties understand the information that is being shared.
This ties in with expectations. When you go into a situation expecting to see a certain thing, you probably will. If you open up and allow the greater good of all possibilities to flow, you never know what great things you could perceive.
This all reminds me of those eye illusions in which you can look at a picture and see a dancing couple or see a tree. Both are there. Like Oscar Wilde says, “The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” Again, both are there. It’s all about what you allow yourself to see in it. Sometimes you see one or the other and sometimes you can see both. Just because you cannot see the good in the situation, does not mean it is not there. It’s like how there are never truly any days when the sun is not shining. The sun can sometimes be blocked by the clouds, but if you were to board a plane and shoot above them you could see that the sun was there all along. Shining bright as ever.
So even in situations when you cannot SEE the good, KNOW that it is there. KNOW that it hasn’t left. KNOW that your situation is part of a greater divine plan that was set in order for you to experience and grow in the ways that you need to.
One of my favorite quotes is by Dr. Wayne Dyer who said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” The freedom to give meaning to the situations in life is empowering. You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can control how you choose to see it. Choose to look through a lens of love and of positivity. Choose to give each situation a meaning that is uplifting. Trust that everything happens for your best. And allow yourself to see that the good is there, patiently waiting for you to invite it in!