What Other People See

Do you ever wonder what the view is like through someone else’s eyes? It’s likely to be very different, but in what ways? What might we learn about them if we asked, and for that matter, based on the questions we ask, what might we learn about ourselves?

When I was in Junior High School, I discovered that I couldn’t see the blackboard at the front of the room well enough to read it. Clearly this was a problem since the homework assignments for the next day were written there.

Perhaps I need to pause here for a moment. Yes, I am dating myself. Now of course, it’s called Middle School and probably all the assignments are on a Chromebook or other laptop. Although there are always changes, not being able to see well enough remains the same.

At first, I tried to sit closer, but that wasn’t good enough. Even squinting didn’t help. So, I broke down and told my parents and they took me to get my first pair of glasses. I hated wearing them. Still do actually. And yet I need them for seeing anything in the distance.

I am often asked why I don’t wear them all the time. And some folks in my life want to know how I manage to get along not being able to make things out.

I guess that over time I’ve learned ways to adjust. I can usually determine who is in the distance by their gait or mannerisms, but not always. Sometimes I am at a complete loss to identify something or someone.

When this happens, it occurs to me that perhaps everyone has their own version of this.

It seems to me that it’s pretty easy to take things for granted. We only see certain things and miss others. We have blind spots and could use more acute vision. Maybe it would be handy to have an optometrist for our life, who could help us see what others see.

If a friend stopped you the next time they saw you and asked what your life is like, would you be able to help them see it through your eyes? Could you explain why you feel the way you do?

If you asked them to tell you how they see you, what do you suppose they would share? Is it likely that it would match what you see yourself?

Earlier in my life I wrote out a list of adjectives and asked several of my friends to circle the ones they thoughts best described me. It was a bit of a risk because the list included some unfavorable adjectives, ones I hoped they didn’t choose. When I got the completed lists back, I eagerly poured over them. This was a chance to see through someone else’s eyes and to satisfy my own curiosity.

I was surprised by many of their choices. In some cases, it tipped me off balance. I had to stop and think about how I related to each person in order to make sense of their answers.

For me, it was a grand opportunity. I had a choice to make. I could discount their answers and go on thinking that I knew best, or I could yield and accept that their perspectives had merit. That they knew things and saw things about me that I didn’t. I could shift beliefs about myself. And I could change whatever didn’t fit with who I wanted to be in the world.

I think we all have this same chance, if we pay attention. If we listen with an open heart. If we acknowledge that we have vested interests in maintaining our personal story, and yet if we listen carefully when others speak, we might be able to grow wiser.

If we loosen our grip on the image we project into the world, we can evolve and expand. If our eyes are fully open, we can flourish and see with clear vision this beautiful world of ours.

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