Reflections upon a pond…

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust

I think that is very true. It is very hard to view the world afresh, without the filters that we have been taught to use, the barriers of perception we built up around ourselves. Some of the filters might be genetic, such as our preference for symmetry when judging beauty.

I see a man in the street. He is old, shabbily dressed and as he comes close smells of alcohol. I do not really SEE the man but rather my perceptions of him.

I have no way of knowing his essence, I only see what my filters allow me to see. Old, poor, smelly, derelict.

I am wrong. I cannot really see him until I let him in, but my filters will most likely prevent that. He passes me and I have made a dozen value judgements I am not even aware of. I may have moved slightly out of his way in order to minimise the chance of an incidental physical contact.

We all do that. Having new eyes is the ability to let go of those filters. I do not really know anyone who is able to do that. Even the most tolerant and open-minded person will have some perceptive predispositions.

The best we can hope for is to recognise our shortcomings and actively work against them whenever we become aware of them. Who knows this might open the door to wonderful friendships and experiences we could never have imagined.

I, for one, will smile at the next old man that comes across my path as we pass each other in the street.

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