What Do You See?

October 30, 2007

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail.
Abraham Maslow
My father used so many silly sayings of his own making, that I still hear him in my mind. As a young woman, I took many of those witticisms for granted, and now I realize the wisdom contained within his enlightened lessons.

Countless times over the years, Daddy would take off his glasses and announce, "Oh! My glasses are dirty! And I thought everyone had the measles!"

Sure, the "measles" comment was cute and funny but after the 1000th repetition, the comments didn’t earn the laughter he sought in response. Daddy not only educated me in his own charming way, he effectively taught me through comedic timing and the costume of humor, that not only is life meant to be enjoyed, but the lessons we learn from one experience relate and carry over to other areas of our lives.

Vision deficiencies aside, we choose the filters through which we see the world. The "rose-colored glasses" we know so well, tell a story of an optimist seeing the world in a positive light. Sometimes chastised for his or her affirmative viewpoints, the glasses often suggest the viewer’s naiveté or vulnerability. Whether or not the truth shines through the lenses of our perception, the gestation of our attitude gives birth to the actual, and eventually manifests in other aspects of our daily experiences.

Our glasses represent even greater transformations for our perceptions. Thanks to Benjamin Franklin, who conceived the bifocal lens as a result of his growing weary of changing glasses for reading and for seeing distance, we conclude that we, too, enjoy the benefits of seeing more than one point of view at a time. Using our natural subjective perception, we can expand or contract our field of vision to either accept what we observe at face value or interpret further its intrinsic value and application in our lives. When we put on the glasses of possibility, we see beauty in the world around us, both near and far, and clearly recognize the truth.

Dirty Filters
Just like an air filter in our automobile or our home’s ventilation system, the filter of perception we choose at any given moment, falls subject to particulates of pessimism and doubt. The first indicator, in 20/20 hindsight, reveals our unawareness of the condition of the filter. When we don’t realize our filter is dirty, everyone looks like they have the measles, as my father said. Similar to Maslow's analogy of the hammer and nail, our perception and hence our understanding conform to the dirt on our filters while the truth bounces off the particles of dust in our awareness. The next problematic element of seeing the world accurately rests in our complacency with our dirty lenses. We don’t take the time nor care to clean our lenses of attitudes and opinions regardless of the truth. Our slowly adopted method of thinking becomes quite comfortable, and reverting back to clarity indicates a change out of our comfort zone. Thirdly, types of dirt on our filters vary from person to person and filter to filter, of course. From rose-colored filters to speckles of doubt, to super-polarized, darkly tinted wrap around shades, provide us with widely diverse swaths of information intake. When circumstances of similar nature keep showing up, or you start noticing repeated patterns, take a look at how you view the world, take care to clean up your filters and your attitude, and you’re entire life will transform to the bright and shining truth!

Blinders vs. filters
We tend to view life, through our chosen lenses, as extremes. Our society moves aggressively towards "zero tolerance" and "black and white" measures to determine acceptable behavior and response, all the while setting aside common sense and individual circumstance. Filters such as these prevent a full understanding of life as it unfolds around us, and exacts a costly precedent for interpreting similar situations in the future. While it seems easiest to see either perfect health, or 'everyone-has-the measles,' the truth remains that a wide range of possibility exists in between these two extremes.

Blinders, an implement horse riders employ to keep the horse focused on what is in front of him, encourage him to pay attention to the race rather than other distractions, such as crowds or things behind him. Come to think of it, blinders might just be appropriate to humans in many cases! Distractions take our focus away from what’s important in life, and likewise that which once existed in our past longer impacts us, except to learn from our experiences. Both blinders and filters restrict our imagination and perception. The important thing to realize is that we choose the nature and type of restrictions we impose on ourselves and we alone can opt to view the world without hindrance.

Clear Vision
While it's nearly impossible to un-filter our perception, imagine for a moment what life would look like when you remove all your subjective interpretations. To see clearly through not only your own filters, but the distortion of appearances of the subject you view, presents a welcome blessing. With a clear window of understanding we see solutions to old observations and interpretations and can adjust the magnification of our knowledge. In most cases, our 'forest-for-the-trees' limitation stands aside for an encapsulated zoom lens approach to a broader understanding.

When Daddy cleaned his glasses, the world looked healthy and his feigned pessimism and fear disappeared. Spirit reminds us that "things are not as they appear." Seeing clearly with spiritual eyes, we allow beams of truth to enter our consciousness and shine on our path of progress. It’s only when we notice our filters, recognize which type of limitations restrict us from seeing clearly, and choose to eliminate the distractions, that we fully engage in the beautiful sunshine of possibility and opportunity. May you see the greatness of life with clarity and accuracy.

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