A Matter of Perspective, Experience, and ImaginationBy
Today I was thinking about perspectives and viewpoints. How our past experiences, thoughts, and imagination influence how we see things. I wondered how often we (the collective we) stop to consider the background, experience, and baggage (yes baggage) that we bring to the (metaphorical) table. How often do we stop and think about how something might look different from another perspective.
As I was thinking about this, I started pondering how a tree would look different depending on where you were – the side, above it, or underneath. It’s the same tree, but it would look very different depending on where you are viewing it from.
I’d like to ask that you take you on a short mental walk with me. Can you join me in your imagination? I’m heading out the door now. To my right is an evergreen tree. On the left are some flowers. Beyond those flowers is another evergreen. I’d like to sit down now. Will you join me? Yes, I know, we didn’t go far. But I think that is as far as we need to go to gain some insights in this pondering.
I’d like you to stop for a moment and build a mental image around you. That is if you haven’t already. What do you see? Try to picture all the things I mentioned. Here are some questions to help you build your mental picture.
As you walked through the door:
- What did the door look like? Was it open or closed?
- What color was the door? Did it have a window in it?
- What type of handle did it have? Did you turn it?
- If you opened the door, did you open it towards you or away from you?
As you moved outside:
- What type of surface were you standing on?
- Was it wet or dry?
- What color is it?
As you pictured the evergreens and flowers:
- What type of evergreen(s) did you visualize? Are both evergreens the same type?
- How tall are the evergreens? Which one is taller?
- Are there any pinecones or berries on the evergreen(s)?
- What type of flowers do you see?
- Are they all the same type or is there a variety? How tall are they?
- Are the flowers in bloom or dormant? What colors are they?
- What do the stalks and leaves look like?
So what are you thinking now? Me, I’m thinking that’s an awful lot of questions that we can all answer differently. I could add even more, but I think you’ve got the picture (yes, pun intended). I’d be very surprised if any of us have the same picture in our heads.
Me, I’m sitting on a step. Am I really? No, but in my imagination I am. In reality I’m several states away from where I am imagining I am. In my imagination I’m sitting right outside my kitchen, on the step to my deck. The step is made from a dark brown Trex, as is the floor of the deck where my feet are. The pattern in the flooring runs different directions. The sun is shining, but there are a few clouds in the sky. I don’t need my sunglasses. I didn’t mention the sky. Did you consider it? The evergreen on the right is tall with pinecones. I can just see the top of it over my railing – not the whole evergreen. Were you picturing Annuals or Perennials? The flowers I was imagining are actually in a planter, not in the ground. Honestly, they aren’t even planted yet. I was just gathering my thoughts about what I want to plant there this year. Picturing what it might look like. I’m thinking about 3 different types with different heights and colors. Probably a tall, spiky type plant in the middle with some pink and yellow around it. The second evergreen looks shorter but is actually taller. It’s down in the yard. My yard slopes quite a bit, so the view from up here is quite a bit different from down there.
So what’s the point of this walk through our imaginations?
- We are all influenced by where we come from. The physical location and environment we grew up and/or currently live in will likely affect the type of door, floor, plants and trees we visualize.
- If it has this much affect on such a small activity, imagine how much it might be affecting and influencing how we interact with others.
- Visualization is an important skill? Did you have trouble visualizing? Was this because you didn’t really try or because it is difficult for you? If it is indeed difficult, what can you do to help build this skill? My recommendation – read a fiction book. Too often we watch a movie, play a video game, or engage in some other passive mental activity. This has actually had an impact on developing the part of our mind that builds our visualization muscles. For more information you can click hereto access wikipedia’s Portal to the Mind and Brain.
- How might your ability to imagine affect your ability to “see” others viewpoints?
- As I described my “perspective” did you change yours or did your picture stay the same? How might this relate to how we “listen” to others?
- As others describe something to us, do we hold tightly to our viewpoint or do we try to make adjustments?
This my reader was but a short activity, a small slice of life. Each and every day we interact with a myriad of people around us bringing our perspectives, backgrounds, thoughts, imaginations, and experiences with us. Thousands, possible millions of things affect our unique perspectives. Trying to understand where someone else comes from, their background and experiences can help you better “see” a situation through their unique viewpoint and perspective. Digging deeper, asking more questions, and really seeking to build an entire mental image (whether metaphorical or actual) in our mind can help you view things more completely.
Sometimes it’s important to slow down and really look around you. To Stop, Look, and Listen. You might be surprised. Me, I’m going to stop a moment to enjoy some sunshine on my face in my imagination. Later today I’m going to find some time to enjoy the real thing – I am after all in the “Sunshine State” of Florida at the moment. As the old John Denver song says, “sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy.” It also provides some much needed Vitamin D. I don’t want to be deficient.