TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I contemplated perception. Seeing, perceiving what is “real” versus what we want to be real.
Awhile back, in 1994, I attended the W.R.I.T.E. (Writers Retreat for Interactive Technology and Equipment) Conference in Vancouver. One thing that amazed all attendees was the news that in 15 years, we would all have video streaming into our homes via cable.
At the conference, we were introduced to VR headsets, and saw something called Mosaic, a graphic interface for the World Wide Web, on a huge screen. Then it crashed.
We mocked an AT&T video ad that showed a bunch of “diverse” people “getting along and communicating” in all corners of the world. There was hope that, if such a crazy idea ever did catch on and become possible, the Internet should stay in the hands of the people, not large corporations like AT&T. Of course it would. It was too big, too decentralized.
I think one of the most lovely things about becoming older is having memories like that one. My perception deepens and grows just a tiny bit richer with each passing year. I can, of course, now see the innocence and sweetness of the ideals we had then. And it seems that I can see a bit more clearly how wrong we were to think that with more, faster, and clearer communication, we would get along better and communicate better.
We’re the same people, poorly perceiving ourselves and each other, with our same biases, same prejudices.“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
― Carl Gustav Jung
“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, The Magician's Nephew
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” — Bible, KJV (1 Corinthians 13:12)
I chose those quotes, but so many come to mind: Kurt Vonnegut does a great job of trying to explain our poor perception abilities to us when he compares us (mere humans) to the Tralfamadorians who can see through time.
Telling a story from many different points of view can be a helpful way to gain perspective.
There are many, many ways to tell the same story. None of them is absolute truth. (Okay, we could argue this point until the cows come home. In my opinion, nothing can be the absolute truth until we die and things become clear. We, mere humans, are always going to get something wrong. <= Just my humble opinion)
Telling a story that changes your story can be excruciatingly painful.
Stephen King suggests asking “What if…” to begin considering a new story.
Try one of these: Consider an irritating person or thing. Put yourself in the story in a different place (and time?) and ask yourself “What if…” Try to rewrite that story from a new perspective.
Dr. Paul Bloom wrote “Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion” and I highly suggest learning more about his work.
My briefest understanding of a quick summary of his research might be that we should strive for what Marsha M. Linehan calls a “Wise Mind” — using our best logical mind *and* our fully developed emotional mind to help perceive the world.
What I’d like to propose is that, in our world, with the insane number of videos and images, unless we quietly take time to make sense of them ourselves, we are going to be at the mercy of someone else making sense of them while our emotions get whipped around like an untethered sail in a bad storm.
I’d like to propose a quiet quest of sitting still, “media-free” for a few minutes each day and telling your story, your way. (Your stories, your ways)
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
Consider this story. If you become irritated, if you’re feeling uncomfortable, it’s quite possible that you might be close to deepening your perception of the world. Consider grains of truth — that sometimes, everyone in a situation has a tiny bit correct, and no one has much more than that correct.
Consider that, sometimes, by joining many perspectives together, seeing several points of view woven into one more comprehensive story, we get that much closer to “truth”
9. Hero: Hans (and Ola) Rosling — Statistician
Why? Hans Rosling became famous for his charts and graphs helping us to see our world from a different angle, a more hopeful, more accurate angle. His son, Ola, has continued in his father’s footsteps — this TED talk that I linked to is laugh out loud funny and so insightful.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this. Please share with someone you think may enjoy this weekly.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts.