I once attended a talk given by a world renowned spiritual leader. As I sat in my seat, listening to his words, I became more and more enthralled. I couldn’t understand how people could get up in the middle of his lecture and walk out, either to the bathroom, for a drink, or just to leave. I was mesmerized. I’m sure my mouth was hanging open. I followed every syllable of the story he was telling. He spoke of dark matter and galaxies and gravity. He spoke of the stuff of the universe and consciousness. I remembered it all for about a day. OK, I remembered some of it for a day. But what really stuck with me is the fact that what we see is literally subjective.
You see, our eyes don’t actually see anything. They don’t even send images to our brain. Our eyes send simple signals to our brain, and it then constructs the images. And all of our brains are different. We have all had a lifetime of conditioning that affects how the brain interprets and creates these images. So you and I may be looking at the very same thing, but seeing something subtly or completely different. Huh.
This thought affects how I go through my day. Well, it does on the days that I’m paying attention and not just hitting the autopilot button. When I find myself interpreting something different than someone else, I want to know what they see. How they understand what we are looking at. I find it fascinating. Sometimes, I may accept and adopt their view. Sometimes I don’t because I like my view better. But whereas I used to ask the question ‘how can you not agree with me?’, now I’m more inclined to accept that their view is as valid as mine. We’re both right.
In some ways this world is becoming black and white. Right and wrong. Whole groups of people think they have the answer, the right set of instructions on how we all should live. Fear has driven people to look for absolutes.
I find myself going the other way. I see less absolutes as I age. I see a whole lot more gray in this world. More shades. More nuances. I’m good with that. I don’t even mind if you think I’m wrong. That’s your prerogative. But for me, the less time I spend arguing with you, the more time I have to get to know you, and possibly even love you. Now there’s a thought.