BLOG: The Reality of Perception


It’s funny how people can see one thing in so many different ways.

As I sat in my English class last week, worrying about how long it would be till lunch, a ruckus across the room aroused my attention.

Standing in front of the class, the teacher frantically waved down at his shirt, avidly disagreeing with a group of students in front of him. Not the only one intrigued by the actions taking place before us, soon the entire class grew into a heated disagreement . . . over the color of the teacher’s shirt.

The teacher was wearing a faded green shirt laced with gray and the Mountain Vista High School logo plastered across the front.

“Your shirt is green!” the girl next to me called out, followed by a chorus of agreements and cluttered descriptions of the color.

“No, it’s gray!” the teacher shot back and tugged at the hem of his shirt a little more, as if the simple act of stretching it out would make everyone else see what he did.

As more disagreements were called out into the air, I found this would be a good time to call out what I thought.

“Reality is perception.” I say slightly above the chatter. My words caused a slight lull in the conversation as my fellow classmates looked at me with shock.

You mean, their faces seemed to say, that we could all be right about the color of his shirt?

Yes, imagine that! We can all be right! After all, the reality of the world around you is your perception of the world. And as perception of your world changes, the world shifts into a new light and your reality begun anew.

Perception is reality; a simple concept that becomes so hard to wrap your head around. That fact that there are 7 billion people on this earth and each and everyone sees something different and unique to them based off the situations they have found themselves in.

A child, for example, would see the world in a golden haze. Everything is new, exciting, and there is always time to smell the roses, or in their case, eat ice cream. Whereas a hard working adult might only see the end of their desk or just past the head lights of their car. In their reality, they cannot take a second away from their time, they have to push on and get everything done as fast as they can.

Well then which reality is real? After all, both of them can’t be right. Or can they? After all they each have their own perception of the world based on past experiences and lessons learned.

The elder on the street may see both the realities of the child and the adult. They may look at the child with wistfulness of themselves, or their kids or grandkids. Then they may look at the adult with a sympathizing smile. After all, that was them a few years ago. How they must have wished they knew that when they were at that age. It is okay to stop and smell the roses.

As American writer Douglas Adams states in his book Life, the Universe and Everything, “Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.” It is this reason why so many people cannot agree on any simple matter.

Despite working towards the same goal, people form their own armies and wage war against the other side. That’s why words fly like bullets and actions explode like grenades. And instead of stepping towards a change, we are sent flying back. And we wage war on one another like children playing tag. It doesn’t matter whose “it,” so long as you are not affected. They cannot perceive that maybe their enemy wants something similar to them, but their own experiences have pushed them towards a different way of doing it.

Perception is reality.

If there are 7 billion people on this planet that see the world in a different light, then maybe we should stop trying to force others to see ours, and take a peek at theirs. You never know what you may find by looking at a different thing from a different angle.

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