Sitting in a university lecture theatre along with several hundred other nervously excited first-year students, I hung on every word the lecturer said. I concentrated intently, not wanting to miss anything that was said, and I wrote as fast as I could.
The first handwritten slide went up on the big screen. Around me, people continued to write, and I thought they must still be writing down what the lecturer had said. But as I looked over the shoulder of the person next to me, I realised they were writing down what was on the screen. I stared at the blur of black and white at the front of the room. I couldn’t read it.
I was 18 years old and had just realised I couldn’t see properly. A few weeks later, an optometrist confirmed that I had poor eyesight. All that time I had thought I saw well. I thought I saw what everyone else did. But that simply wasn’t the case.
We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are. (Anais Nin)
As I looked through the lenses of that first pair of glasses I realised how different the world was. Buildings had solid edges, blades of grass were blades of grass not a sea of green, and movies on the big screen weren’t blurry.
We might look at the same object, see the same event or experience similar circumstances but what we see is different.
So much happens in life. On any given day we face many opportunities and challenges, we need to make choices both big and small, and we interpret events that happen around us. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, to see things the same way we’ve always seen them but it’s useful to remember that it’s not the only way.
Imagine that on your drive to work, someone pulls out in front of you. You see it happen and you attach a meaning to it. There were other vehicles nearby and people walking on the sidewalk who saw it happen too. But guess what? Not one of you will say the exact same thing. Every person will have a different view, a different interpretation of that same event.
We are meaning making machines in a meaningless world. (Joe Pane)
While you might say the driver didn’t bother to look or stop, others might say he did. If you were already having a bad day, you might think that the driver pulled out on purpose just to annoy you and make your day even worse. But the driver might have been momentarily distracted by their crying child in the backseat, worried about something they had to do at work that day, or something else entirely.
Your beliefs, values and past experiences form the filter, the lens, that you look through and shape how you interpret what happens around you.
How you’re living life now is based on the way you currently see the world. So, I wonder, if you looked through a different lens, what would you notice?
You’re in a helicopter hovering above your life, from that vantage point you can see the past, present and out into the future. Now step into the role of detective – a neutral observer – and notice what you see.
This isn’t a time for self-judgement or to be critical of yourself. It’s an opportunity for self-enquiry, to look at how you’re living.
In the busyness of life, it’s easy to get caught in a hamster wheel. You’re running hard and fast but not getting anywhere in particular. Or perhaps, you’ve stopped running because you feel deflated, stuck or uncertain.
Looking at how you’re living from a different perspective isn’t for the faint-hearted. It takes courage to let go of long-held views and it requires you to be open and curious.
If you know there’s got to be more to life than how you’re living now. If you’re ready to step into the driver’s seat and consciously create the life you live, then this is for you.
So, what do you see when you look at how you’re living with fresh eyes? And, what will you change because of this new view?
I wish you well on your life journey. There’ll be ups and downs, highs and lows, easy times and challenges, but within you is a depth of courage and strength that you can draw on. Go well.