You and I seek second opinions for the same reason cops interview as many witnesses as they can find.
We don’t see things as they actually are, but more nearly as we are.
“What’d you see? Well, I saw a blue . . . “Are you certain?” Oh, absolutely.
“What’d you see? I saw a bright yellow . . . “You sure?” With my hand in the air! God’s truth!”
Okay, somebody’s lying. Right?
Could be. We’re not going there. In this case both saw the same event, but from different angles, different perspectives – and of most importance, through their own unique, individual set of experiences.
Filters, if you will.
We all do that. Let me remind you again: We don’t see things as they actually are, but more nearly as we are.
“Yeah, that’s all good, but how can one see blue and somebody else looking at the exact same thing see bright yellow? That make sense?”
The human mind is one of God’s crowning creations. It’s an amazing thing that after millennia of research remains largely a mystery.
Babycakes and I decided one Saturday to take Little Red Riding Snake on a road trip west, then north to a delightful place called Carriage Crossing just outside Hutchinson, Kansas for lunch, then make our way back home before the real summer heat drove us back inside. I consulted the map, chose a likely route through little burgs we hadn’t yet seen, and we hit the road.
We knew at about which mile marker we’d begin watching for the two-lane north. After all, the map was clearly marked.
Issue: the highway wasn’t. There’d been the ubiquitous summer road construction projects. Uh-hunh. You know what that means, right?
Our little half-day jaunt of a few extra miles morphed into just under two hundred miles of unexpected detours, stopping to gas up and ask for directions, and finally arriving at Carriage Crossing around 2 PM.
The roads have all been repeatedly and thoroughly mapped. Every Walmart road atlas has them all, including some you’d never wish to travel again. Every GPS unit shows them all. No prob. Be there in a jif.
Not– not exactly. You know why. At ground level, it all looks different. And if for some reason the signage has changed, it takes no time at all to get either totally or happily lost.
Your mind is not the same as mine. No. Kneeling in grateful thanks is not necessary. No two minds are precisely alike because you and I and every other biped beating tootsies on Earth are products of our own environments, understanding, learning, and personal experiences.
The guy who saw bright yellow? Something about the event or occurrence he saw reminded him of something in his own past. A sound… a color… a smell, or a person’s appearance, or a dog like he once had, or seeing a tie-dyed t-shirt. Anything could have triggered a memory in his mind that saw a similar event as the one he’d witnessed. In his memory, it was—-
Right. Bright yellow. He wasn’t wrong and he wasn’t lying. He certainly wasn’t trying to mislead the police investigating the matter. He ‘saw’ yellow where the other witness saw blue.
I almost gave this another title: The Guy On The Gurney. Why? My longsuffering wife has had since April of 1997 to repeatedly correct me: “That’s not how it really happened.” “That’s not what you actually said.” “No, honey–you’ve got that all out of order.” Along with those come pitying glances unsuccessfully trying to cover up the thought that my small gut isn’t the only thing I’m missing.
As a witness looking on, those are on the surface all correct statements.
So were mine. I was The Guy On The Gurney.
Things look different when you’re the one trying not to die. A lot of things formerly important have all the weight and impact of a soap bubble.
The close friend who came to see me in the hospital following surgery #3 found me asleep, though they billed it as a drug-induced stupor. And when I say ‘billed’, that’s exactly what I mean. They’d brought some flowers and a cheery helium balloon from the gift shop, so being unsuccessful in my resurrection, she left them on the tray table right beside my bed. All friendly, positive, harmless and love-filled.
Sometime around 4 the next morning I regained some semblance of consciousness, swimming up through swirling tendrils of Weird Dreamland. The first thing I remember seeing was that reflective aluminum foil happy face hovering directly above me, bobbing and swaying in the moving air currents.
To my barely-focusing eyes and nausea-ravaged interior that was not a harmless, happy-faced foil helium balloon. It was a leering, garishly-colored denizen of The Dark Side, sinisterly undulating and coiling above me, waiting to devour what was left of me.
It fused my rubberized non-slip socks to my feet, froze my heart into near-flatline, and made me mash the nurse-call button hard enough to make my IV pump go P-TEEENG! a few bazillion times!
Our friends saw it as a harmless gesture of caring and love.
I saw it as an inexpensive and innovative way to finish me off.
Of course I’m kidding. Point? We saw the same thing. We were both right. It all depends on one’s point of view.
For, as all good teachers do, I for the third time repeat: We don’t see things as they actually are, but more nearly as we are.
Did I mention that balloon was bright yellow?
© D. Dean Boone, 2015