Where I Look From Determines What I See

Say what?

When riding to a work site with a colleague, he was bemoaning how nothing was working the way he wanted it to and how unfair life was. It was his favorite litany, his well-worn groove, describing how he experienced his life. The next thing I knew, a sparrow fatally dive-bombed itself into the windshield of our rental car. Startling to say the least, it reinforced my colleague’s perception about everything wrong in his life.

While stopped at a red light today, I saw a single dandelion growing in a sidewalk crack. It was perfectly formed, tall and proud. Glorious. It brought to mind an incident with the homeowners association (HOA) where I used to live. Texas was having a drought then too; we were on water restrictions.

One November day, I got a nasty-gram from the HOA about the weeds in my front flowerbed. I looked. It did need weeding, so I did. In December I got another nastier nasty-gram on the same topic. That letter I ignored, because I had weeded and thought it looked pretty good for a flowerbed in winter. In January, I got a very irate nasty-gram which said that they were going to send someone out to weed my flowerbeds, and send me the bill, because obviously I was ignoring them.

So I went outside and looked again, determined to see what they saw. Eventually it hit me. They weren’t recognizing my flowers as flowers because they were different than everyone else’s flowers. What I was recognizing as native plants, they saw only as nasty weeds. I went inside crafted a letter, letting them know I wasn’t ignoring them, I had in fact weeded in November upon receipt of their first letter. I also explained that I had worked with a horticulturist who specialized in native plants that could prosper in the absence of supplemental irrigation, since we had been limited in our water usage for a while. I offered to have this horticulturist speak with them about plantings that would be better for the environment, if they were interested. The silence deafened.

I also recognize the truth of this viewpoint when it comes to interpersonal situations. If I believe someone is basically on my side, then I am more likely to take any apparently challenging comments as useful and if I believe someone does not have my best interest at heart, I am much more likely to take it badly. Its just human nature, and at the same time, its a decision over which I have huge choice about.

As Master Teacher Jesus said, and Holmes so often quoted, “it is done unto you as you believe”. It is this perspective that I strive to look from and my belief about the world and how it works that determines what I see in my world.

Is this true for you, too?

– Janis

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