and now the rest of the story


Bodhi happily watching a bird

A few months ago, I was searching the web (can’t remember why) and I came across the photo that I use as a header for this blog (Luke and Esther looking out the window together). There is something about animals looking out windows that makes me smile, and I can remember my delight the day that I saw Luke (with his huge, furry head) and Esther (sitting on the radiator so she was at his same height) both focused on something that I couldn’t see.

But the person using my photo for their piece that day, had written a story about the unhappiness of animals kept inside, and their longing to be out.

Same scenario, two different perspectives: one happy, and one unhappy (largely because of partial information about the situation). I don’t blame the person writing their story. I can see how they might come to that conclusion. It makes perfect sense. It simply isn’t the truth.

What I have come to know is that I always have partial information if I am relying solely on my conscious mind to figure things out. I always have partial information if I have a thought about myself, or anyone else, and this thought makes me feel bad. I always have partial information if I judge another as somehow less than me (or greater than me) based on my ideals, opinions or standards.

I’ve made hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands?! of snap judgements in my life. I wish I could say I don’t do that anymore, but this would be untrue. The only thing that I can do today is notice (when I am judging) how I’m feeling and when that feeling is small, uncomfortable or unhappy, I can be sure that I am seeing with partial and unclear vision.

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” Albert Einstein


14 thoughts on “and now the rest of the story

  1. I would have been upset and hurt if someone had used my picture that way, and I really admire you for turning the incident into a wonderful and useful illustration of our habit of making snap judgements.

    Sometimes when I find myself feeling superior and judgemental (which is a lot) I imagine that the other person is actually some sort of great ascended master in disguise – like in Star Wars, when Luke first met Yoda, not knowing who he was.

    Thanks for the reminder to stop and notice feelings.


    • Oh thank you Susan…but I did feel somewhat upset when I first saw my photo (and the implication) and I wanted to write and tell them that my animals go out all of the time and that they were not trapped inside, and I REALLY wanted to defend myself…
      but I do try to not react when I’m upset and usually the charge goes out of the thing, which it did here too.

  2. Dear Mary, I really needed to hear your wise insights this morning…this post truly resonates with me! I am currently juggling some decisions which revolve around another person…one whom I now realize I may be seeing with unclear perceptions. Thank you for your beautiful reminder to hold no judgements and to keep a clear heart and mind open to all possibilities. I love the photo of Bodhi…he looks like he’s also looking for good possibilities!

  3. Photography, like most art, is open to our interpretation and our imagination and I find myself often weaving a story about a piece of art that I see, without ever really knowing the artist’s truth about the piece. And we often interpret based on our life experiences, how we are feeling at the moment, something ‘it’ reminds us of. Or we might allow the art work to transport us somewhere…one’s interpretation may speak volumes about them. One may see beauty and light everywhere or one may see struggle and darkness…Now I get the saying that “art imitates life”. Indeed it does. What a great life lesson from a simple, beautiful picture of Luke and Esther enjoying their shared moment from inside a warm and loving home.

  4. Your reply to Susan, Mary – ” I try not to react when I am upset” really jumped out at me, – wise words and a wonderful post. I was thinking of photographers and the great amount of money that can be spent on lenses. – The same picture can suddenly become quite something else when taken with a different lens. Wide angle, magnifying, – I don’t know all the technical words, but we, too, have different lenses in the way we choose to view a situation or person. This post also made me think of the Bible verse about ‘seeing now but dimly – and one day we will see in full’ – another reminder that we are only seeing a partial view. Who knows what it is like to walk in another’s shoes – the view could be entirely different. Having spent quite a bit of time with my ten year old grandson this weekend was a delightful experience viewing the world through the eyes of a child. So refreshing.

  5. Mary,
    What a beautiful reminder to watch our judgements. When I was in college one project was to go out with a classmate and photograph the same thing (statue, people or whatever). It was shocking to see that two people can look at the same object – yet view it in a completely different way.

  6. My favorite phrase is “Perhaps I don’t have all the facts”. I say this many times to myself throughout a day for it works with a picture or anything I hear.
    We never truly know what is going on in someone elses head, ever.
    Everything is perspective. If I set a cereal box in the center of a table and four people are sitting there and each person describes what they are seeing you will have four very different descriptions. Same box, different views.
    I find that true with life. We may all be looking at the same thing but we all see it from a different perspective or view.
    Nice to hear someone else trying to keep the judgement down!

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