Can’t see, can’t hear
Someone once said that between the two closest people, there exists a vast gulf of understanding. We have this tendency to go through life thinking that the world is as we see it and experience it everyday. We may vaguely get that others see it and experience it differently, but generally we find it hard to understand how they don’t see it the way we do.
This is another of the great unknowns. We think we have one world happening around us, but the reality is we have seven billion separate worlds going on simultaneously in near proximity. Ideas, ways of doing things, and even foundational concepts in our reality can be completely new, foreign, or just plain wrong to someone else.
I like to call this the seven billion keyholes. We’re all looking into this room we call the world from our own perspectives. From my keyhole, I may clearly see a mountain and a river. Someone else may not see that, but a beach and the ocean. We’re both looking at the same room, but we’re limited by our perspective. Neither can see what the other sees, but we’re each convinced that what we see is the TRUTH.
This is the basis for interpersonal chaos and world war. However, if we simply walked over to the other person’s keyhole and peered through, we would see what they see.
This point was driven home to me back in my undergrad days at The University of Kansas. I was an Education major and enrolled in a class for teaching special needs kids.
The professor required us to do a two-day experiment. We had to walk around campus for two days either blindfolded or with ear plugs to simulate being blind or deaf. This was my third year at KU and I’d have told you I knew that campus like the back of my hand. Two days walking around with a blindfold on (guided by a classmate) taught me I didn’t know it nearly as well as I thought.
Anais Nin famously wrote, “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” I quickly realized that the KU campus without sight was very different from the one I experienced every day. I saw how reliant I was on my sight for so many things that I took for granted. I got to take the blindfold off after two days, but some people have to live their whole lives with that challenge.
The gulf between each of us is large, but it can be linked well enough to create a world of cooperation and collaboration rather than conflict.
I’m not suggesting you walk around for two days with a blindfold, though it would be an “eye-opening” experience. I am suggesting you step away from your keyhole once in a while to look through other peoples’ keyholes. You’ll probably learn something, move a stop closer to them, and create the potential for a better world and a better you.
All my best for a GREAT Tuesday!