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“If I diminish other people’s perceptions, do I diminish them? Not just their arguments. Them.”

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Were this a critical essay, I’d offer a premise, confirm or refute it by essay end, and do so in a hopefully convincing, interesting and structurally sound way.

Spoiler alert.

These 539 words are nothing of the sort. A family member’s perception of an event spurred this exploration. I have no clue where I’m going with it or what I’m trying to say.

Perception. Perception. Perception. Hmmm. Maybe start with Point of View?

Say I’m the narrator in a story told in first-person present tense. There is that point of view rule that discourages mindreading, unless of course your narrator has the gift of telepathy, x-ray vision or perhaps hears voices.

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This is not to say I can’t be a gifted narrator who is capable of sensing thought or emotion. But since I can’t actually slip inside another character’s mind, I might note my perception as an inference with clarifiers such as “it seems like” “my guess is” (fill in the blank).

Why is it, then, that in real life, in moments of self-doubt, I rarely clarify an inference? I’m instantly omniscient. I emphatically tell others precisely what they are doing or thinking or feeling. “You are not listening to me;” “You don’t want to read this,” “I am boring you;” “You are screening my calls;” “You don’t think I’m doing what I want to be doing,” etc., etc., ad nauseam.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in this tendency.

One writer, Jeff Goins, who blogged about truth and fiction, said, “Every day, we lie to ourselves to avoid facing the discomfort of our anxiety, hurt, and betrayal (just to name a few feelings).”

Sounds like survival tactics to me.

I would pile on Jeff’s notion and say, “Every day, we create truths that project or blame our emotional discomfort about ourselves, about our perceived betrayal, hurt or anxiety by others on others.”

I’m guessing that’s a survival tactic, too—Jeff’s being self-deluding, mine, exponentially so.

Back to perception.

A moment occurs.

If I were a computer possessing no historical data from which to draw conclusions, I could describe that moment factually. Instead, I am human with petabytes of data stored from even before birth that will distort or clarify or perhaps even amplify said moment.

Intellectual data—my skill sets, values, education, and experience;
Personality filters—am I introverted or extroverted, analytical or a sensor, insecure or confident?
Physical and emotional filters, both historical and immediate, which affect my current mood.

But here’s the rub. Even though my perceptions are filtered, not “just the facts” and likely not the pure “truth,” they are real to me and they are uniquely mine.

So do my perceptions define me? Or does my self define my perceptions?

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Eh. Who cares. It just leads me to my real question:

If I diminish other people’s perceptions, do I diminish them? Not just their arguments. Them.

If I had a super power, I’d choose to ACTUALLY see the world through the eyes of anyone I choose.

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But I don’t. The best I can do is to respect how they see it.

It may not be the pure truth, but it’s their truth.

539 words. Minutes you will never recover. How do you perceive this rambling?

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