It’s Monday morning. Two hours after waking up, I’m still groggy from disturbing dreams and not quite enough sleep. Settling in to write, I sit in exactly the same chair that I sat in a week ago with the mirror across the room reflecting almost exactly the same likeness as my week-ago self and yet I feel vastly different about who is reflected compared to my feelings about her last week. Leah of last week looked like she knew what she was doing with herself and with her life. She looked healthy, happy, and writer-y. Me of Monday looks slovenly and a bit gross and like I probably should not waste my time trying to write anything because everything worth reading has already been written or is being written by people with a better vocabulary than me. Nothing of consequence is any different between the two except my ever-so-fleeting feelings. Those feelings color my perception.
It’s Saturday morning. I arrive early at the coffee shop where I am meeting friends. A group of people begin to gather in the couch-filled space next to my table and I jot down observations: Woman, mid-50s, cheerily greeting arriving senior citizens while handing them a slip of paper good for a free cup of coffee. Observations become judgments: Feels like a church group meeting. Free coffee…it’s always some gimmick with these groups. Probably a group from the ridiculously large Baptist church nearby. Not a group I belong in… It turns out, the assembly is a gathering of local artisans and people interested in learning more about the newest creative community in the area. My thoughts transform: Maybe I can come to the next meeting. And I’d get free coffee! What a great idea! Not a darn thing had changed between my initial judgment of the group and my excitement over potentially becoming part of it except my perception.
Informed and influenced by my experiences, my affinities, my prejudices, my mood, and how well I slept the night before, perception colors everything, for good or ill. It’s all in my head. That’s why I’m pretty careful about who and what I let up in there. But clearly, I still have some work to do.“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” — C.S. Lewis
Oh, Leah, I know this one for sure. Good for you to recognize that little perception demon and write so eloquently about it. Great post!