“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” Aldous Huxley
A popular cliché always dominates conversations, especially when the subject is a difficult one. “One’s perception is their reality.” Over and over again, I hear these words vibrate in private talk among friends and whispers among loved ones. So much of the heart of that statement is very much true. What we see is what we perceive.
But what if you cannot jump over the crater of perception and reality? When do we reach the point where we do not care what others think of us? This task seems monumental. I often write about my internal struggles, joys, epiphany moments, and observations in this space. It is a place that is my personal vortex. As I write, my feelings fall like stacked dominoes, sentence by sentence, and create a personal place of the sacred, the mundane, and the joyous. A few people have commented to me personally and said, “You put so much out there in your writing space.” I am not denying that statement, but there is also so much I choose to keep private.
The truth? Every single one of us is struggling. With something. The word “back story” weaves it way into my life more and more. That is the buffer that we must consider before we make the leap between perception and reality. The back story is where others are so quick to pour their perceptions, assumptions, and speculations. It becomes wrought with judgment. I’ve learned to lasso my own judgments because although there is so much I’ve convinced myself that I can see, intellectually I realize that it is never the story that person is living.
I’ve experienced this back story in a very personal way. My father struggled with cancer for 4 1/2 years, but he decided to keep his illness a secret from his family in India, his friends, and people in his community. We all harbored this sorrow for so long, but kept some sense of normalcy through the duration of his illness. When people asked us how we were doing, we never revealed what was really happening. Most of our free time or vacation time was spent in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and doing research on experimental treatments. It is a stark example on how perception and reality are diametrically opposed.
My father’s example is how I’ve felt the angst of my family’s crack. But I know, more and more, that I am not alone. So many are fighting, healing, contemplating, mulling our realities, while others may apply their perceptions on the unknowns and knowns of your life.
I am not at the point where I can separate myself what others think of me, but I am working toward closing that door. Because your perception is never an accurate portrayal of that person’s reality.
IMAGE: BY THE_GIRL VIA FLICKR UNDER A CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE
I remember being taken aback by a comment from a college classmate my freshman year; she said, “Everyone thinks you’re so confident, because you’re often taking off on your own, like you don’t need anyone.” She couldn’t have been further from the truth! I often “took off” because I felt I didn’t fit in so her perception was the complete opposite of my reality. When I told her this, she said, “When people don’t know enough, they will fill in the blanks on their own.” I always remembered that and I think it’s true.
I understand what you were saying about your family’s secrecy over your father’s struggle. It’s part of the Asian culture, isn’t it? My mother was diagnosed with cancer 10+ years ago and she never told a soul (except my father, brother and me), not even her own sister who is just a year apart.
I am always surprised at what people perceive about others. People make huge leaps when they fill in the blanks and I think that is very dangerous way to live.
The Asian culture does gravitate toward secrecy. I know for my Dad keeping his cancer a secret was his way of yielding control over the only part of his illness. Unfortunately, his desire to keep it hidden for so long did cause collateral damage to those he left behind.
Yes, what we perceive is never the real story because all of us keep parts of ourselves hidden. I think a fair amount of privacy gives us some control of our lives…or at least that is our perception. I try not to let thoughts of others concerns of my being in my mind…I try to remember the quote, “What other people think of me is there business. What I think of me is mine.” Hope your day is blessed, Rudri.
I like the motto that you talk about. This is so true, but something I forget. Keeping those words handy help in letting go of those judgments that clutter our minds.
As always, thanks for stopping by.
Hi Rudri….I just found your blog post on the SITSshare linkup and read your post. I think just about everyone I know struggles with what others think of us on one level or another–especially us women–even when we say we don’t care. I too have written about it from several different directions but I appreciate the idea that BECAUSE of our own unique perspectives we can never REALLY know what is going on with another (and likewise others can never really know what we are going through). That alone should help to remind me that I can’t let anything important in my life be determined by other people opinions–right? Thank you for this new idea. Who knows? Maybe it will be just the right piece that will allow me to close the door. ~Kathy
Anytime I make a rush to judgment, whether it is toward a stranger or friend, I remind myself that I am not privy to that person’s backstory. My lens is clouded with my interpretation. As soon as I internalize this thought process, it becomes easier to take a step back and realize how wrong it is to choose to fill in blanks to a story I do not know.
Thanks for stopping by.
I came across your blog from the Sitssharefest this weekend… I agree, it is hard to separate yourself from the perceptions of others. And even harder to separate ourselves from the desire to have others share positive perceptions of us. Sometimes I find myself struggling over the right wording not to offend” anyone. Then I realize the people who know me will know what I mean..
Welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by.
My struggle centers around letting go of the perceptions of others and understanding that my reality supersedes what others may think. Your words reminded me of a Dr. Seuss quote, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
I appreciate you reading and am glad my words resonated with you.
What an insightful post, Rudri. We all live with facade to varying degrees and for numerous reasons. To judge others, never knowing the depth and intensity of their back stories, is invariably to misjudge.
Thanks, Wolf. I think these judgments are a part of everyone’s makeup. I hope that eventually I can taper my reactions when I hear someone has an erroneous perception of a situation or person. It is difficult practice that requires diligent effort.
As always, it is good to see you in my space. xoxo