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?
Doug, for several minutes now, I’ve pondered your question. Your entire post felt like a riddle that messed with my mind, and that goofy “which came first, the chicken or the egg” kept rolling around in my head. 🙂
But a possible answer that might seem wishy-washy would be: Could it be a little bit of both? Reality shaped by perspective, or perspective shaped by reality? I think both play a part. At least I think they do for me.
Thanks for the mental acrobatics.
I wonder this often and I think in many cases it can be a bit of both. When things go differently than expected it’s easy for me to say “it is what it is”. However, for better or worse, when they go as expected it’s harder to say.
There are certain people that I deal with that I don’t like dealing with, and they rarely make me feel otherwise. At this point, with them at least, I know the original catalyst is the dynamic of our relationship. That said, I can’t help but wonder if my negative expectations influence the negative experiences that typically follow or if that negative experience was going to happen regardless of what energy I put into the universe. 🙂