Saturday, November 17, 2012

Reality v. not reality

These two pictures of my kids illustrate a simple point about modern life.  Pictures lie in subtle ways.  Don't believe everything you see.

The picture on the left was taken before the one on the right, but you couldn't know that until I told you, right?  The arrangement on the page is no accident.  I placed it there after due thought and with a purpose.  What was my purpose?  You shall see.

The picture of the boys in the left might make you think that they don't like each other.  Look at Aiden's clenched fist and Gavin's unhappy expression.  Both look related.  What the picture doesn't show is that Gavin was mad at his father. Aiden simply couldn't see with the sun in his eyes and was afraid of falling.  Now, the picture on the left is just as deceptive.  They are so sweetly cuddled together and look happy.  They were happy because I was about to let them run off if they would smile for one damn picture.  Now, if you believe what you see, you would have to reconcile the images to begin with, but once you were given some background, you would also have to reconcile those images, your perceptions and my motives.

I am very good at using images to manipulate your emotions.  I grew up a photographer's daughter.  I learned, at an early age, that images can be used to create a narrative.  My mom won awards for her wedding album layouts because they told a story that needed no words.  It was all very deliberate, and if you had seen the rolls of negatives that were the first stages of creating an album, you would be surprised at how much thought went into telling each of those stories.

All that being said, we live in a society in which seeing is supposed to be believing   Computer technologies have made this a dangerous proposition. Our eyes can be so easily fooled now, but we are left with that knowledge and an embedded cultural trust of images.  Not a great mix.  It puts us at odds with one of the senses most of us rely on everyday to navigate our world. As we learn how to sort out the real from the apparently real, we have to assimilate that new skill set into our worldviews.  Changing worldviews takes time and energy and a willingness to reorder our internal spaces.  It means giving up a lifetime of thinking and replacing it with new, untried notions, and then, we must reinforce those notions daily.

I have found that spiritual learning is just the same as learning to not trust my own eyes all the time.  First, I have to accept the possibility of deceit   Next, I have to develop a schema for sorting good information from bad, and finally, I have to use that information, even when it's not comfortable.  Once I get through all these stages, I can accept my new reality as, well, real.

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