perception, interpretation, and the world one lives in 

A woman walks through a park carrying her child. The child gazes up at her. An old man, who the woman does not recognize, sits on a nearby bench and watches her pass. The woman’s sister, approaching from the other end, sees her and waves. Above the whole scene a pigeon is circling lazily, scanning for food.

Through whose eyes do we see this woman as she truly is?

Of course, through the eyes of each. Each one reveals a truth. The woman is as much who her sister knows her to be as she is what the pigeon sees.  She is, also, what the mute worms beneath her feet sense and, of course, she is who she thinks herself to be - a sense of self so different now, but no less true, than she felt in the first minutes of her life.

The reality we experience is contingent on our perspective.  We live within that perspective, as within a house on a landscape. We see the view outside through windows - that is, the frameworks of mind defined by character, culture, genetics, microbes, hormones…and all other forces that inform our perception and our interpretation.

The discovery that my view on that proverbial landscape was bounded, and that the world could appear so radically different when I shifted my perspective - was something of an epiphany. I had not realized how constrained I was by my own sense of identity, and how many assumptions, projections, and subjective value judgments informed my opinion of others. 

It was a humbling realization.

But, to discover that I also had the power to choose my perspective, to move from window to window, to punch holes in what had been solid walls and even, on occasion, to float out of the house altogether - this gave me a sense of liberation and power  that I had never before experienced.

The implication of shifting perspectives, and thereby shifting reality, interests me as a tool for solving problems and healing conflicts, whether those be internal, in the reality any given individual experiences, or external, in the world that we share.


ABOUT SARAH J HART