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Musings

Do You See What I See?

During a recent conversation with a couple of friends, the topic veered off into ink colors specifically for what to put into a fountain pen. As I was looking at color swabs my friend T was putting on paper to get my opinion, I commented on how similar two of them looked to me and how I perceived another in a way she could not wrap her head around. They couldn’t be any more different (I’m sure she thought in a Chandler Bing voice.) 

It’s important to note that I am a tiny bit colorblind and have slight difficulties differentiating certain shades from one another across the color spectrum. Reds and greens in particular are a challenge. This manifests in me not properly perceiving what I’m told are dramatic differences between some colors out there. This may have resulted in me one time buying some pants I thought were brown until someone gently told me, “no, Greg, those pants are more of an olive green.” Oops. I often feel like I won’t be able to fully appreciate the beauty of a grand forest.

After explaining my eye cone deficiencies, my friend did her best to explain to me how each ink color swatch was unique, what underlying colors made each swatch look the way it did (e.g. one green has more yellow tones whereas this other brown had reddish tones) and how she’s able to perceive these things. I tried my best to see what she was saying in each color sample, doing what we all do when we can’t see something quite right: squint. Spoiler alert, squinting your eyes is neither a solution for improving overall vision nor one’s ability to see colors with greater accuracy. Regardless, I appreciated her patience in pointing out what I very obviously could not see. 

While an imperfect analogy, it got me thinking about the “colorblind” spots each of us struggles with. Some of us are blind, whether partially or in full, to understand the perspectives of people who grew up in a different setting, such as living in the suburbs and not being aware of the specific struggles of a dense urban city or quieter rural town. Perhaps you can’t get yourself to wrap your head around the differences between, say, Catholic and Baptist traditions and simply choose to live in the dark and be blissfully unaware of what makes each unique. 

A disproportionate amount of tension and misunderstandings in this world come from us 1) not being sufficiently aware of our surroundings, specifically of people, 2) being unskilled at asking questions, and 3) not being good at asking questions which is very closely tied to #2. Far too often we don’t recognize or ask to understand how others see the world. But what happens when we slow down to ask those questions, to pick up on cues both obvious and subtle, that the person you’re interacting with (or just consuming their content online) may have a blind spot that causes them to come off as harsh, cruel, or misguided. What is your response to that moment of newfound information? Do you pause, recenter yourself, and work to educate and share how and why you see what you see. It’s too easy to assume others totally “get you” and that you “get them.”

Dig, ask questions, share, explain. Don’t be afraid of your limitations, but do be aware of them.

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Musings Rant

In Your Own Words

In the last few years, I’ve watched people I know take on new personas online and spout off with positions on topics on social media and speak in tones and absolutes that would trouble me if I heard them talk that same way in person. I’ve seen how calloused and stubborn we have become in positions on everything from politics to medicine to foreign policy to religion and everything else in between. And in most of these areas, the people I’m referring to are not professionals in those spaces but speak with the authority and audacity (pride?) of someone who is. It is baffling. Why do we feel so compelled to sound right all of the time (and everyone else wrong)? 

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Musings

2020, The Loss Of Nuance, and The Callousness of Selfish Gain

I was not ready for what this year became. I suspect you, reader, were not either. 

This year was hard. Though like many others I tried to make do with what was dealt. I spent more time alone than usual and wrote about feeling the need to be cared for as a single person. Travel was mostly nonexistent, save for one coordinated trip to the South for a week in June to see & quarantine with close friends. The April marathon I trained for was canceled. Yet I continued running throughout the year and almost logged 700 miles. Neighbor Bob and I masked up and replaced the basement and stair tile. I completed a year at my not-so-new job. I also made some new friends while nerding out over stationary. So not all was lost.

However,  I also found 4 gray hairs. That is not acceptable. Thanks a lot, 2020!  

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Musings

Truthful Words (Should) Matter

How much does truth matter to you? 

Mm, what’d you say?
Mm, that you only meant well
Well of course you did
Mm, what’d you say?
Mm, that it’s all for the best
Of course it is
Mm, what’d you say?
Mm, that it’s just what we need
You decided this
– “Hide and Seek”, Imogen Heap

It’s a cliche at this point to say American culture is at a crossroads. Each generation says and feels that “it’s never been like this before.” And they would be correct. Our moment is no different; how we talk and write about it is, however.

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Musings

Best Supporting Actor

Be the best supporting actor role in everyone else’s story

Me, Me, Me

American culture has an odd obsession with celebrity and being a star and unique. We are taught to see ourselves as important and as the center of our universe. Individually we are each the point from which all things revolve and rotate around. We each matter, probably more than the next person! It’s ok for goals, personal freedoms, and desires to take precedence over any unexpected repercussions in our ongoing quest for self-gratification. It’s self above all else. 

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Musings

Counting Up All The Change

It adds up to something much more significant than expected

“Every moment has led up to this.” 

– Every movie protagonist as they get ready to face their biggest foe

Change adds up

Over the last couple of years, on this blog I have examined questions about identity discovery, living in a space with less built-in promises, and on reliance and trust on people outside myself. Offline in the real world, I’ve been quietly preparing my mind and heart for a big change. What that change would be was very much unknown, but it’s clear through what I’ve felt compelled to share that the status quo wasn’t good enough anymore. In the process, I couldn’t see what that would add up to. I don’t have the final answer yet; I’m actually still doing the math and formula calculations, scratching out notes and numbers because I write in pen and never believed in doing my math homework with a pencil.   

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Musings

On Reliance and Trust

Life has a way of finding new things to surprise us with and to shake things up to keep us on our toes. They can be small and feel inconsequential in the moment. Others are bigger and have an immediate effect on how you see the world. I’m in the midst of one of those bigger life surprises. 

Categories
Musings

No Promises

This is the crux, the core, of so much hesitation in my life. There are no guarantees afforded to us. But I always want more of what isn’t available: More stability, more reliability, no bad surprises. That level of expectation is, of course, is folly and pure madness to chase after such levels of security and predictability. Perhaps it is that excitement, joy, and real living are found at the edges, in that space where we’re taken beyond our comfortable spaces. Those parts we’re afraid to expose to anyone else, maybe even to ourselves.