Okay, I can’t even come close to saying this is really a Mindful Monday post…but, having missed two consecutive Mondays due to preparing for and recovering from Unschoolers Rock the Campground, I want to get this partially written post out before Monday comes again…
So, although it was originally intended to be a Mindful Monday post, it’s more a Mindful late Saturday/possibly early Sunday morning post, instead.
- Have you ever misjudged a person or situation?
- Have you ever been misjudged, and, although you tried to explain, found that the other party was unwilling to hear anything that ran counter to what they were apparently determined to believe?
I’ve given a lot of thought, over the years, to how and why these things happen. Sometimes, it comes down to a matter of perspective. What do I mean?
It might be easier to explain if I start with beings with fundamentally different perspectives – like humans and Vulcans, for instance (come on, admit it. You’re not really surprised I found a way to get the Vulcans involved in this post, are you?)
Vulcans, you see, are not human. They look more or less like us, – especially if you discount those elegantly pointed ears and upswept brows – but they don’t think like humans, and they have a profoundly different perspective on reality.
A Vulcan can’t be human, and a human can’t be Vulcan.
Recently, I watched “The Crossing”, a favorite episode from Star Trek: Enterprise‘s second season. Enterprise is pursued by a faster, unknown alien craft that swallows them up, and doors close to seal them in. Engines, weapons, and sensors all go down, but life support and the external viewers are still working, and show little bobbing wisps of light up by the ceiling of the chamber they’re in.
When a landing party takes a shuttlecraft out to explore, something that seems to be made of blue light passes straight through Trip’s helmet, and into the engineer’s head. As he gasps, a golden lightform passes from him, through his helmet, and away.
Naturally, the captain is concerned. Trip’s staring at his hands like he’s never seen them before, and doesn’t answer when spoken to. But, a few seconds later, the light pattern reverses itself, with the golden light returning, and the blue light passing away again, and, with another gasp, Trip’s back to himself, telling them about how he felt like he was up on the ceiling with those bobbing lights, and, at the same time, back in Tarpon Springs, Florida, swimming with an old girlfriend who was worried it was getting too dark. He insists it wasn’t a dream. Medical scans taken once they’re back on Enterprise say that nothing’s wrong with him, and do nothing to explain the mystery.
The Captain and T’Pol have a conversation, shortly after this, in which the difference in their respective perspectives becomes evident.
Captain Archer, looking out the window of his Ready Room, compares their situation to being in the belly of the beast, and is angry that his ship has been taken hostage.
T’Pol points out that they don’t know that it has been.
The Captain retorts that there aren’t any stars, and weapons and engines are down, and that that seems pretty hostile to him.
T’Pol’s response is that she supposes it depends on how you look at it.
Who’s right, here?
Would you believe that they both are, and that they’re both wrong, too?
Captain Archer is human. He has a human tendency to translate what he feels into what he thinks. The captive status of the ship, and what happened to Trip, are threatening to him, and, being threatened, he perceives a hostile intent.
T’Pol, on the other hand, is Vulcan. She’s culturally conditioned to suppress her emotions, and has spent a lifetime honing the discipline to keep them from impacting her perceptions and actions. Therefore, she looks only at the facts: the ship is trapped, systems are down, and something happened to Commander Tucker, but apparently caused him no harm.
It’s a matter of perspective, at this point. T’Pol is right when she observes that they can’t know the intent of the occupants of the larger ship. Given the facts, there’s nothing to indicate hostile intent.
But Captain Archer has a different perspective – one that’s based not only on the facts, but also instinct, intuition, and emotion. He knows there’s a threat; he doesn’t need proof to know they’re in trouble…
And he’s right. After Trip is taken again, and then other crewmembers are taken against their will, and not returned, it becomes obvious to T’Pol, as well. Once she, too, sees the danger, she is able to put her considerable knowledge to use helping to minimize the threat she can now perceive.
That’s how perspective works. We each bring our own worldview, experiences, personalities, even our moods, to each event in our lives. Being human, that’s just part of our nature.
The trouble comes when we decide that our perspective has to be right, and we’re not open or willing to accept that we might not be seeing the whole picture, or that the picture we see may be off-center or out of focus, due to something that happened in our past, or our approach to life, and may have nothing at all to do with current events.
If we can realize this, we can start to shift our thinking, and our feeling. We can stop, and realize that our perspective is a result of all that we are – and it isn’t infallible. We can maybe even open to ideas and evidence we would have discounted before – and that might just shift our perspective to something more present, self-aware, and mindful.