Posted in Life Writing, Monday Meanderings

Is What You See Really All There Is? On Perspective and a Mindful Life

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?

A matter of perspective. Zentangle art and photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

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.

More Mindful Monday at Silver Threading.

Let the icon lead you to more Mindful Monday!

 

Author:

I am myself. I own my life, and live with three other people who own theirs. My intention is to do only those things that bring me joy, and to give myself wholly to those things I do. Writing has been my passion throughout my life, and this will become the home for my writing life...because it brings me great joy!

9 thoughts on “Is What You See Really All There Is? On Perspective and a Mindful Life

  1. Sometimes something which seems really bad on paper actually has a perfectly plausible explanation in real life, like when someone is falsely accused of a crime and then exonerated with a full apology after better evidence comes in.

    Yesterday I had an experience related to changing perspectives myself. I was about to turn off my car and start walking to lunch when someone in a truck drove up next to me and said I wasn’t supposed to park there (by a vacant lot on a side street across from Fuller Road). He said he’d reported my car to the police a number of times and that they were keeping track of my car and license plate number. Once I said I hadn’t known I wasn’t allowed to park there and explained I was really uncomfortable with my Orthodox friends seeing me driving in daylight, he was really apologetic and said he hadn’t known that’s why I was parking there and then walking away. My rabbi’s family are fine with people parking in their lot on the Sabbath and holidays, and would never berate me if they saw me driving up and getting out of my car, but it just makes me really uncomfortable, and also makes me feel like a hypocrite for walking to synagogue a mile away but driving to lunch a bit under 2.5 miles away. I thanked him for letting me know, and ended up parking on the Dutch lot on campus, which is free on weekends and where I used to park when I still had a sticker for parking anywhere on-campus. It was nice to see a neighborhood vigilante transformed into a Good Samaritan, since he could’ve easily just called the police again and not even warned me away from using that street.

    1. I’m glad that the gentleman didn’t call the police, and that you found a place you could park that also met your needs.

      And I agree – sometimes people see the surface of things, and assume that that’s all there is. But there’s always depth, motivation, reality that doesn’t show on the surface. It’s only when we realize this that we can see beyond our own perspective and see that others have their own, too.

  2. I love your journey. You just hit on a subject that is dear to me perspectives. I love how you summed it all up. Namaste, and continue the journey. ❤ Love that you work at this still. 😀

    1. Any time I can get the Vulcans into the mindfulness posts, it’s a good day for me! =)

      Perspectives are very important to me, too. I’ve got more to say on the topic, so maybe I’ll eventually have a guest post to offer you…

      Since I’m still breathing, my journey continues. And namaste. =)

  3. I have a strong tendency when I see or hear someone do something or act a certain way, to first think, “what could possibly make me do or say that?” It stems from my father telling me when I was an adolescent and was harshly judging a cousin who had gotten a his girlfriend pregnant, “Little girl, never say never. You don’t know what life may throw at you or where it may take you.” Since my Father, almost never had anything negative to say to me, as he knew I was perfect ;), his words really hit home and stuck with me.

    Now, in all honesty, if I’m outright confronted by something or someone, I’m probably going to start responding before giving it much thought. But in most other situations I do try to empathize and I tend to give the benefit of doubt and see things in what, to me, is the most positive light.
    #WeekendCoffeeShare @ Life & Faith in Caneyhead

    1. I love what you say here. It reminds me of something a former employer once said to me: “Everyone’s biggest problem was as big as everyone’s biggest problem.”

      We’d had a staff meeting shortly after the death of my infant son. One of my teen coworkers was complaining that the meeting was running long, and he was going to miss The Simpsons. I looked at him and said that we’d just picked up our baby boy’s ashes.

      To me, right then, his problem seemed utterly petty, compared to the emotional trauma we were living through. But my boss was right. To this boy, missing a favorite show was just as big a deal, in his world. It might have been for me, too, when I was his age.

      Since then, I’ve tried to remember – I don’t know the entirety of anyone else’s situation. It only takes a sperm cell and an egg to create a pregnancy, and, for what might be a relatively small error in judgment can lead to a whole new person…

      Most of us make bigger mistakes along the way than giving in to the temptation of sex – but many of those mistakes, we get to cover up or keep to ourselves…

      It’s good to remember that none of us are perfect…and we do better if we can see that each of us has our own story…and we can never know all the details of another’s life.

      Your father sounds like a wise and compassionate man. Compassion wan’t a part of my upbringing, but I’m trying to make it a part of my life,and therefore my childrens’. I strongly believe that compassion makes a better world.

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