pondering: view from the outside


pondering: view from the outside

i’ve been thinking a lot lately (and have had a few conversations) about perspective, specifically focused on ways in which we are blind to things and on how others see us. because the latter of those topics occasionally turns to talking about what it will be like when i achieve my rockstar dreams, because i’m hoping to post here a couple times a month instead of sporadically, and because this is a more interesting topic in my head right now than the post i was considering on playlists….welcome to post two of january 2010.

ah, our own blindness. the fact is, none of us see anything with complete clarity. our perspectives are influenced by what we want to see, by what we don’t want to see, by what has happened in our past, by what others say about a thing (either because we want to accept their words or because we are reacting against those words), and so forth. and that’s in addition to things like being unable to actually be in another person’s head or heart, unable to feel what their own history and circumstances are doing to change their perspective. we are all blind in spots. as you might imagine, because i am a big fan of truth and clarity, i hate that. i really do work to see clearly. and even when i don’t like what i see, i’m grateful for things that help that.

admittedly, i am also wildly frustrated by those who opt for blindness. i understand why people do it. i really do. it can be easier, it can make life more exciting (for instance, when you let yourself get caught up in the drama of a thing instead of looking at the calmer truth or the “run away” truth), it can let you not take actions you dread, it can allow you to fit in more easily with others, and so forth. so i’m not without compassion. but, wow, my love of truth and my desire to see are so great that i cannot understand on more than a basic, intellectual level. a conversation about this prompted me to post on my twitter the query: “do you want to see? are you willing to see, even if it’s not all pleasant? and, if not, why not?” because i really wonder…

my aversion to blindness also makes me really appreciate the good people in my life. i try to surround myself with people who won’t let me get away with things or stay blind. i have an amazing best friend who calls me on it if he perceives i’m out of line or not seeing correctly. i have great kith who will tell me if i’ve said something stupid. i have kin who will question my perspective if they think i’m off. i have friends who will laughingly tell me when they think i’m not seeing clearly. i’ve figured out who the “yes men” are, who the people are that are just trying not to cause waves or who are trying to curry favour by just being complimentary. i understand why people do that, even if it goes against my nature, so i can care for them…but it doesn’t mean i want them close or i trust them for gaining perspective. (of course, part of the magic of the good people in my life is they manage to be assertive without coming across as hurtful or jerks. i scored!)

the other side of this whole pondering is how others see us. people who’ve known us a long time have their perspectives of us influenced by that history. this can be good or bad. i know one bump in the road as i’ve tried to become a better person is running up against someone’s perspective that’s based on a less “refined” version of me. they expect of me and treat me as that old version. on the other hand, sometimes those people are the ones who can clearly see how far i’ve come and really celebrate it with me. good and bad. my personal “action item” here is to try to be more mindful of how people have changed, rather than focused on whom they were.

there are also those whose perspectives are influenced by the fact that they know or focus on only one area of your life. they read all they see of you through that little slice. that always makes me feel like i’m being smashed down from a multi-faceted person into one little fragment. i think it also leads to misunderstanding and hurt that need not happen. action item? remember that, for most every life, i don’t see all the facets. i’ve been doing better at this, which has helped me not take many things personally and helped me have more compassion.

there are those whose perspectives are influenced by not liking you. it’s a psychological fact that, when you don’t like someone, your brain actually constantly looks for proof that they’re bad. it’s your brain’s way of trying to make you feel okay about not liking them. crazy, non? so, they don’t like you. which means everything is seen through a sort of twisted view and with a desire to see what’s wrong with you. ouch. action item? accept that not everyone will like me and don’t build my perspective of self on the perspectives of people who don’t like me. trust that those i love will both give me more credit than those dislikers when they hear the negative side of stories about me and give me honest input if i am out of line. otherwise, let it go. i’ve become a fan of letting things go. and, of course, try to be aware of areas in which my perspective is influenced by dislike so i can fight that.

(side note: one thing that makes me sad, in my life and others’ lives, about perspectives based on not liking is that you miss goodness. for instance, i have had people i disliked whose acts of kindness were cast in negative light by my own warped perspective until years later. i have watched my own kind actions treated that way by those who didn’t like me. ouch. so i’ve been consciously trying to learn the fine line between knowing when something is a genuine act of kindness and when there are ulterior motives. plus, there’s the nasty inclination to disregard the potential and good in those we dislike. i don’t have to love those who aren’t good to me, but i feel like we do an injustice when we relegate them to a realm of worthlessness, lack of talent, etc just because of that.)

when this conversation turns to “plus, someday when you’re famous…” aspects, a few more things pop up. like the fact that many people seem to have a sort of delight in watching those with any fame get torn down. my action item? never claim i’m perfect or try to come off as perfect. because, you know, nobody is perfect. and not claiming perfection ought to make it easier to laugh it off when someone hops on a fan forum and trumpets my flaws.

or the fact that nobody is 100% photogenic. even the people i know who do modelling or photography will tell you it takes loads of shots to get a good one. and there is always going to be some picture of you eating or mid-movement with your eyes half closed and your mouth looking stupid or of you slouching or something. even without fame, facebook now means there are pictures of you out there right now that your friends took and tagged. you look like a dork, no matter how hot you are, and everyone authorised to view your photos can see it. and i’ve seen enough to know that those who want to see you in an unattractive light will do it even if the picture is good, whilst those who want to see you as attractive will be charmed by your imperfect pictures. action item? accept and let go. which i’m sure i’ll have to chant over and over when the enquirer has the picture of me slouching and looking tired with runny makeup after a show. hehehe.

in the end, my approach is to try to be mindful of what’s affecting my perspective and how i might be blind, to try to react first with compassion so that maybe i can see others more clearly, and to just be my best self as much as i can so that people seeing me from outside are at least building their perspectives on that instead of a lesser me. also, if i try to live with truth and positivity, i honestly believe that can help others see clearly. plus, lots of just letting go. some people will never like me, and that’s okay. some people will never see me clearly, and that’s okay. there are some things i won’t see clearly until i’m dead and outside it all, and that’s frustrating but okay.

ending with a current favourite quote on truth (thanks, nicole!) and hopes that you’ll see more clearly, that you’ll have the courage to act when that sight shows you ways to make life better, that you’ll surround yourself with those who can help you with this.

“truth is like the sun. you can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.” ~elvis presley