Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Doors Of Perception

The Doors Of Perception

I think, sometimes, that people see what they want to see. Or need to see. You can never tell.

I received an email the other day from a lady who wanted to know what I “really” looked like. She was smart enough to guess that a photograph doesn’t necessarily tell the entire story. I wrote her back and told her that I had a beer belly, false teeth, and little, if any, hair. I may have shattered her illusion of me. So it goes ...

And that got me thinking about what we see and how we see other people.

I suspect that we see people in a unique way. Our experiences in life tend to enhance or distort the reality of another person’s appearance. Tall people, short people, fat people, skinny people, bald people, hairy people, young people, old people, black people, white people . . . man, they all get stereotyped by our quirky little prejudices. Too many of us are attracted by a “type,” and worse, too many of us are repulsed by a “type.” Yes, most of us will say that appearance is secondary, and for some people that’s true. For others, well, they make an initial judgement based on that first impression, and it takes days, no, months, no, even years to change that perception, if it ever changes at all. It’s sad.

I was once asked if I would take out a lady whom I had never met. It was one of those classic blind dates that you so often hear about. I remember calling her on the phone to set something up, and she immediately began to describe herself to me. She said she was 5’3”, a bit stocky (but certainly not fat), had short brown hair and blue eyes. To be honest, I was a bit dumbfounded. I just wanted to know if she liked seafood. Still, to be polite, I offered her a visual of myself. I told her I was 5’ 10” and pretty average in every way except that, yes, I had less hair than I had when I was thirty. Then she said the coolest thing to me. She said, “Well, if you’re 5’10” and I’m just 5’3”, then I’m not going to see much of what’s up there anyway.” For me, she’d already rounded first base. She put one of those petty insecurities that I had about my own appearance to rest. We did go for seafood, and we remain great friends to this day.

In another instance, a friend of mine was dating a girl who many of our mutual friends thought was well beneath him on the visual scale. He has a bit of a Tom Cruise thing going on, and she looks more along the lines of Joan Rivers. One day, I was having coffee with him, and he asked me what I thought of his new girlfriend. My initial response was courteous.

“She’s fabulous,” I offered.

He pressed me further because he was well aware of what others were saying. So I simply told him this, “When you look at someone through the eyes of love, you see a beauty in her that no one else can see. It doesn’t matter what other people see. It only matters what you see.”

When he asked me to be his best man at their wedding, I was honoured to do so.

I’m not sure what beauty is. Since drifting into middle-age, I find I’m becoming more and more captivated by something far beyond someone’s physical appearance. These days, I find myself far more interested in someone’s emotions, wit, and wisdom. For me, it's essential that my partner have a brain and can communicate with me outside the bedroom. What makes someone beautiful in my eyes is more about how she feels, sees the world, embraces a passionate lifestyle, and of course, it helps if she can dance. Actually, she doesn’t even have to be able to dance literally, but she should embody a certain energy that I am attracted to.

The doors of perception aren’t really doors at all. Perception isn’t something that one opens and closes at will. You’ll see what you see because of who you are. It’s never really about the other person. It’s about you.



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