Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Perception is Reality?

We all have “things”…”labels” we attach to ourselves over our lifetime. We give them to ourselves or others give them to us. We take these with us wherever we go, like a sack. Not good,…but not unusual. Our labels may be these: helpful, funny, sarcastic, neurotic, sweet, gay, straight, bitter, smart fat, thin, hostile, workaholic, rainmaker, inconsiderate, or connected. Any of these sound familiar? Or perhaps, we may be popular, a loner, talented, tone deaf, sympathetic, insensitive, self-involved, rich, poor, religious, agnostic, evangelical, republican, democrat, ecologically minded, animal lover, athletic, spastic, good with numbers, bad at math, or fun at parties. I was often called “fun at parties”. What does that really mean anyway? Have you ever been called a good conversationalist, easy to talk to, self-involved, awkward, beautiful, average, ugly, technically challenged, or good with gadgets? The list can be almost infinite. Are you imaginative, creative, dull, strange, bizarre, old, young, people lover, people hater, effective or useless? Do other people use some of these labels to describe you? We’ve heard people refer to other people as “she’s a saint”, “he’s a freak”, “she’s in her own world”, “he can’t help himself (he can’t help himself do what?), “she really knows how to get things done”, “give him an inch, and he’ll take a yard”, “she lights up a room”, or “he’s such a bright light”. Any of these ring a bell?

What happens when perception gets turned on it’s head? What happens when all your life you think of yourself as funny, but you meet someone who says that you’re not that funny? Does this mean that you’re not funny anymore, or just that one person doesn’t think you’re funny? Makes you think. For that person you are not funny, you might still have others rolling in the aisle. Are they wrong? Are you? Perception is reality.

What happens when you believe yourself to be someone who cares about someone else, but they don’t feel as though you care about them? Does this mean that you don’t really care, or just that they don’t feel you caring? Doesn’t really matter, in the end perception is reality.

What happens if you believe yourself to have a good relationship with your children, that you’ve been a good parent, that your kids have turned out to be reasonably good citizens, but they let you know many years later that you weren’t really all that good? Maybe you could have been home more, you could have been more attentive to their needs, you could have listened more…whatever it may be? It’s not possible to roll the film back on those past years. How do you defend your good parenting? You can’t. Perception is reality.

How can you fight perception? It is after all a person’s opinion. It is not right or wrong…it just is. It is upsetting that someone else may not see what you’re seeing. Perceptions are so intermixed with emotions, history, and memories that it would be difficult to convince someone that they’re perception is wrong, or for them to be convinced that yours is right.

In the end, I guess, you live, and others perceive. One person’s reality is not always another’s. It’s hard to accept this at times.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Oh what a year

This was the year that I lived to see another year. This was the year that I discovered Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy Ice Cream…truly therapy. This was the year that my relationship with my sister changed forever. It was the year that I discovered long lost friends from ten, fifteen, twenty, even thirty years ago…this was amazing. It was the year that I realized that good friends could sometimes feel just like family, and that sometimes family can feel less like good friends. This was the year that for the first time in eight years the candidate I voted for… won…Hallelujah! It was the year that the economy tanked and the housing market collapsed; hopefully no place to go but up…hopefully. This was the year that I sold my tandem kayak on Craigslist in one day. I love Craigslist. It was the year I tried Pepe’s Clam Pizza, Super Duper Weenies, and Ipswich Clams. Perhaps not the choice of champions, but it sure was good. It was the year that my inspirational yoga teacher/friend had an aneurysm. Initially her outcome was quite grim. Now after three months she is able to walk, to talk, and to read…she is still inspirational. She doesn’t remember ever teaching a yoga class, this may just be a matter of time. It was the year that I felt scared, angry, sad, hopeful, helpless, lucky, unlucky, positive, negative…sometimes all at the same time. It was the year that I tried acupuncture and liked it enough to keep trying it. This was the year that we adopted a beautiful, sweet new puppy. It was the year that I was unable to work, that my only job was to regain my health, and this felt like the hardest job I ever had…and these are just the things that I remember.

It was quite a year and I’m glad to see it pass. It’s funny about a New Year, you go to sleep and wake up and it’s a New Year, and some how it feels like a page has turned, there is a fresh beginning…out with the old and in with the new. It’s just another day, but what a difference a day can make.