Years ago I lived in Belgium, in an area that I would consider the middle of nowhere had it been in America. Roughly an hour away from major cities, farm animals behind my apartment, and no tall buildings as far as the eye could see. Despite this, I didn’t really consider it the middle of nowhere, primarily because I wasn’t in America. The culture was different, the vibe was not threatening to me as a Black guy in this “country part” of this foreign land. However, a friend of mine felt it was just as bad as being in the middle of nowhere in America. Racism was still an issue, unfair treatment by local law enforcement and business owners, there were farm animals and the ripe smell of cow manure in spring. Both of us are from big cities kind of. My home city being Chicago and his being Atlanta. At the time I couldn’t see how this place was the same to him of all people.
How much of our reality is shaped by perspective, or is that perspective shaped by reality?
Initially I just chalked it up to “we all see things differently” which is true, but only part legit. Our perception of reality is usually shaped by our past experiences in life, but that doesn’t mean current circumstances can’t be different. His take on Belgium was made up before we had been there for a month. His experiences over the course of his time affirmed his expectations. My opinion of Belgium wasn’t fully formed until I was there for a year, and my preconceived ideas were also affirmed, albeit vastly different than his. Of course, the experience itself follows the preconceived idea, just as chickens follow eggs, but what exactly is the catalyst to the experience being what it is?