Dissecting Understanding Part VIII: Perception

per·cep·tion
pərˈsepSH(ə)n/
noun
  • the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. “the normal limits to human perception
  • the state of being or process of becoming aware of something through the senses. “the perception of pain
  • a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression. “Hollywood’s perception of the tastes of the American public

 

I would like to discuss the third bullet on this Philosophy Sunday.

(Mini-note…”Hollywood’s perception of the tastes of the American public”??? That sounds mighty ominous!! Is that why that horrible show about that one iconic family is such a hit? Because that is Hollywood’s perception of the tastes of the American public?? What a sad state of affairs….)

Perception is a fickle and capricious beast! As a whole, society’s perceptions are seemingly in constant flux–at least that is my perception–shifting from one point of view to the next, one extreme to the next, more quickly than the blink of an eye. As individuals, we seem to be either a stick-in-the-mud-sticking-to-my-guns type, a que-sera-sera type, or a “sheeple” who ebb and flow along the most-popular-perception-at-the-moment type. Perception is weird.

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It has been argued that, essentially, there is no reality–only everyone’s individual perception of reality. And since perceptions are a lot like opinions–everyone has one and everyone’s is different–it is hard to argue the existence of a one true reality. Also, like opinions, everyone seems to be positive that their perception is the right one.

This battle that perception causes, is, in my opinion, the biggest contributor in any argument. “You said this, this is how I perceived it, and now I am mad. ” Followed with a, “Yeah, I did say that, but it means this to me, and I cannot believe that you could perceive what I said in such a way.” Or, “This is how my people perceive the world. This is what we believe in, and we are 100% right, and you are 100% wrong. Therefore YOU change your opinion!” Followed with, “Well that doesn’t make any sense to me and my people. Obviously you guys are crazy, and unless you change, you will be destroyed.”

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To dial it back to a more mentally manageable level, how does perception affect your day to day life? For myself, I find that other’s perceptions of me seem to vary quite a great deal. Being one who strives to be the walking epitome of “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover,” it is a personal goal of mine to contradict those perceptions. I want to look like a veritable badass, but in reality I am sweet, almost too sensitive, and pretty friendly. I want to look cool, but really, I am hardly “on fleek.” I can be a punk, a geek, a goth, an emo, a slightly unprofessional-looking professional, a rocker, a furry, a valedictorian and the class clown–but in reality, I do not fit fully into any of these categories.

Sometimes the perceptions of different social groups surprise me! In my group of hooligans, although I am one of the oldest, I am one of the tamest. One of the least experienced, and kind of a puss when it comes to some of the more “hardcore pastimes.” (For example, the mosh pit! I have never been in one!! Or fighting–I have never been in a fight, even though several people have tried to start one with me.) However, my stories being told at the museum where I work–man! People seem astounded by my badassery!

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I do kind of feel that reality is based on your own perception. And your perception–your world-view, if you will–can be changed. Therefore you can change your reality. However, you cannot force someone else to change their perceptions. What are perceptions made of? The thoughts, opinions, nature/nurture, and reactions of the individual. I cannot see the world through your eyes, because I was born with mine; and visa versa.

Although I am sure the governments of the world would like us all to be on the same page, I don’t think there would ever be an agreement on who, in fact, carries the right belief. I mean, we purposely have different perceptions in the United States–because that is what democracy is all about! Therefore…is world peace possible? Is there a way to collectively alter everyone’s perceptions? In that case, would there need to be one single answer? Would it not be more simple to just agree to disagree? I am rather against a “sheeple” mentality, so I do not think a single collective perception would be ideal, but what do I know? Only the reality that I perceive…

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Dissecting Understanding: Part IV–Mars and Venus

menandwomenbrains

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Ok, so we all know that boys and girls are totally different, not only physically speaking, but how we feel, how we think, and what we think about those feelings. When it comes to understanding, this seems to be a huge chasm that we will never be able to cross.

What is the difference between the male brain and the female brain? Well according to psychologytoday.com, “researchers have discovered almost 100 major differences,” between the two! The four primary areas where the differences occur include processing, chemistry, brain structure, and blood flow and brain activity. Basically, the article I read said that boys use more gray matter, while women use more white matter. In a nut shell, boys are task-oriented, tend to shy away from examining emotions, and can be capable of tunnel-vision. Women are more apt to multi-task, so they can work on one thing while keeping track of what is going on around them, and be consciously examining their feelings and other’s feelings at the same time. (www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hope-relationships/201402/brain-differences-between-genders)

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Being a girl, I can really only vouch for the female brain. However, I have been told that I am “a bro too,” so I have had a little bit of practice trying to dissect the male brain as well. I have one little brother, and I am seven years his senior, so I’ve had a little hand in his raising. My brother is also pretty popular, so I had quite a slew of frequently visiting boys that I either had to adopt or go crazy! I adopted them, but they still drove me crazy, hahaha! It also helps that it is easier to go to the older sister than it is to the parents, at least when it’s about something you don’t want the ‘rents to know, hahaha! So, now that I am up to about seven little brothers, I feel as if I have a little bit more knowledge in the male brain department…

It has not always been easy. In fact, I distinctly remember a few occasions where I have slung the words, “Stop hating on me for being a girl!” Or, “Don’t forget that I am a girl!” on more than one occasion. Apparently, I am a rather chill girl though, if I have to keep reminding them that I am, indeed, a female! Why do I have to remind them? Usually after I do something “incredibly girly” like stand up for their girlfriend instead of them, or get all weepy and lonely and cry to them about being single, or be suddenly overwhelmed with such emotion that I just cannot keep it in. When this happens, and they go “incredibly guy” on me, and start complaining or talking trash, OMG it drives me bonkers!

Why is that? Why must I, at times, feel ashamed for being a girl? Please don’t get me wrong, my brothers are not all jerks and a-holes, but once upon a time they all were young and dumb (let’s be honest, there are really only two of the seven “brothers” that annoy me the most, and they happen to be real brothers themselves). And they are not the only ones that have made me feel this way. At work, in the store, just sitting some place quiet and enjoying some quality people watching, I see this look cross a man’s face when he thinks the woman he is with is acting “incredibly girly.” Is it really that they cannot even fathom why we would react the way that we do? That they are so busy shying away from anything that may cause them to emote, that they just think we are plain silly for giving into ours so frivolously? Do we? Are women slaves to their emotions?

I guess I would have to admit that a gaggle of women can be a very dangerous thing, hahaha! Even just two women. Women need other women so as to have their emotions validated. (Which can be problematic in the complaints department, because suddenly you are hating the one that you are complaining about because your friend has supported your reactions to such a high degree!) Men, especially in my experience, just want you to hurry up and admit your fault so that you can carry on. Women do not want to believe that they are at fault, because of a whole list of reasons, that made them react in the situation the way that they did. This word that you said, this face that you made, this movement, and that thing you did two weeks ago that has been festering in the back of my mind ever since–all of this led up to the reaction that you got at that very moment. Most guys do not want to hear that, because that would be bringing up the past. But the past includes everything that that one individual guy has already deemed forgotten. However, the woman feels like that issue never was resolved, because you never accepted or validated her feelings!

It seems like such a vicious cycle. I know of exactly one couple who have seemingly found a way to circumvent this particular head to head. And do you know what it is? Communication. They blow, they have an argument, and then they sit down and talk. He is willing to hear how she feels, why she feels that, and what she wants to be done about it. She is willing to admit where she may have been irrational or illogical, then accept and listen to how she had made him feel. Then they make a plan to try to ensure that this argument never happens again. Their relationship isn’t perfect, but they try, and that is the important thing.

Communication…that is the key word here. Actually listening and hearing what the other person is trying to say.

Active-Listening

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As far as the man is concerned, when a woman tells you how they feel, do NOT reply with, “Well that’s stupid!” I got that one, except I think there was an f-word in there. Granted the statement I made was rather bold–it was said not too long after my mother passed–but what I wanted from him, what I needed, was, “Why?” I had a sound reasoning behind it. Instead, I was never allowed to talk about my feelings about my mother’s death with that person ever again. Which sucked. And, five years later, I do unfortunately harbor some resentment because of that. Enough so that I remember the conversation, hahaha! But, in that article I mentioned above, it did say that women utilize more of the memory component than men. I feel that is true, because I remember everything, it seems like.

So what is the message for today? LISTEN!!! Do not be so stuck on the idea that you are absolutely right in your beliefs. Give that other person a chance to talk! I do feel as if I am directly speaking to the males of the world with that one. Or maybe just one particular male in my own world. As for the women, make sure that you can logically back up the feelings, because, again in my experience, some men will tear you down for irrationality and illogical emotional outbursts. At the same time, remember that a lot of women feel as if they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, and sometimes men just don’t see all that you do. If they don’t see it, they don’t know it, and it seems very difficult for them to emote about something they just don’t know. So you better be able to explain it. So, go practice actively listening this weekend. Maybe someone will hear you, then….

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writingworks.wikispaces.com

Dissecting Understanding: Part III–Ruby

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I am currently reading a novel called Ruby by Cynthia Bond. Oh my goodness, what a horrific book! Cynthia Bond is a very descriptive and almost poetic writer, and it took me awhile to discover her groove, but now that I have, I am hooked! Hooked, appalled, unnerved, horrified….yeah….pick one.

The book is set in the “Colored” town of Liberty, Texas, in the early-middle of the twentieth century. Slavery may have been abolished, but racism still ran rampant through this southern area. The main character, Ruby, is the byproduct of racism, sexism, religious fanaticism, and child abuse. Which is the reason I have included it in my understanding section of Philosophy Sunday.

As far as I know, there are not any slave-owners in my genetic history. However there are plenty of salty characters just the same. But I never really understood why there was such a delineation between the races and why there was still a lot of hate. This novel, who cares if it is fiction, has opened my eyes to what it may have really been like to not be Caucasian in the south during this time period….and if it there is any chance that it is an accurate portrayal of life as it was, then I can understand the hate.

Ruby Bell is a former high-ranking beauty, born from an odd family, but one of the greatest beauties of her time. However, she left for New York, after working all of those summers for that highfalutin “White Woman,” and came back a loon. Ruby is introduced as thus:

“Ruby Bell was a constant reminder of what could befall a woman whose shoe heels were too high. The people of Liberty Township wove her into cautionary tales of the wages of sin and travel. They called her buck-crazy. Howling, half-naked mad. The fact that she had come back from New York City made this somewhat understandable to the town.

She wore gray like rain clouds and wandered the red roads in bared feet. Calluses thick as boot leather. Hair caked with mud. Blackened nails as if she had scratched the slate of night. Her acres of legs carrying her, arms swaying like a loose screen. Her eyes the ink of sky, just before the storm.

That is how Ruby walked when she lived in the splintered house that Papa Bell had built before he passed. When she dug into the East Texas soil under moonlight and wailed like a distant train.

In those years, after her return, people left Ruby be. They walked a curved path to avoid her door. And so it was more than strange when someone walked the length of Liberty and brought a covered cake to the Bells’ front porch…”

Right away you get a feel for the town itself (we will leave Ruby out of it for the moment)….obviously it is a small town for them to have the ability to weave cautionary tales about one lowly individual. It also indicates a deep seeded religious aspect, if they are so worried about sin. It also seems as if these people do not leave their town very often, if they need to have warnings about travel–especially about that hedonistic pit of Hell known as New York City! Also, there seems to be a great deal of gossip going on there….boredom does weird things to your brain! “Years after her return…” key word being years! This poor thing has been wailing in the moonlight for years, and all these people do is just watch her? Well, I mean, if they helped her and she got better, what would they have to talk about?

Now let’s talk about Ruby–came back from New York a little cuckoo, huh? Howling at the moon and digging in the dirt? Why? What is she doing? And if she is so crazy, why is someone bringing her a piece of cake? (Spoiler: I adore that person bringing her the cake! He is a simple man, but maybe that is what makes him such a quality man! He doesn’t have the mental capacity to see anything other than what his heart feels. No excuses or justifications of asshole-actions! Just beautiful!)

Now, I don’t want to give too much away, and I have yet to finish the book anyway, but I need to tell you that Ruby acts that way for a reason! She was turned into crazy, and she tried her hardest to keep a hold of her sanity, but it was literally ripped out from her straining grasp. Poor little thing….

For example….here is what her highfalutin white “employer” told her…

Tanny and Ruby were the only Colored girls with Miss Barbara. Miss Barbara once said, “You girls are important here because gentleman can do things with a Colored girl they simply can’t bring themselves to do with a White girl.” Ruby knew that the White girls were always good girls, even when they were bad, but Negro girls started bad and couldn’t be anything after that.”

Guess how old Ruby was at this time? Like six, or something!!

“The things he did to her hurt worse than anything she knew, than any way she imagined she could be hurt….”

Ruby’s tales of woe only continue. I cannot really say that it gets any worse, but only because I feel as if that is probably one of the very worst things that could happen to any child. Grown adults using children for their sexual gratification sickens me. And what “Miss Barbara” said about those two girls!? That they could do things to ‘Colored’ girls that they couldn’t bring themselves to do to a white child? Is that how it really was?

What about adult women? If and when they had sex with them, would they do things with them that they could never bring themselves to do with a white woman? If that is how it really was…

Of course, Ruby did not only have to fear the White Man. Members of her own community used her for all that she was worth! Even being as buck-crazy as she was…just wipe off the bits you want to use and don’t touch the rest. At least the white men paid her!! (Two-bits, most of the time. A quarter! I mean, I know it is 1939, but don’t you think traumatizing a child is worth more than $0.25?? Can she say, “Excuse me, I was making that when I was six…” UGH!! Too much to even contemplate!!)

Without giving too much more away, the point that I am trying to make is that there is a lot of misunderstandings to be found by reading this book. First, my naive interpretation as to what the world was like before I was born. I don’t know what it was like. I don’t understand what it meant to be “Colored” in that time period. Hell, I don’t know what it is like in this time period….however, I pride myself on being an outsider, so I do know what it is like to not fit in with the social norm, the status quot, as it were. It isn’t much, but it helps being poor and weird. Second, there is usually a story behind crazy. Mud-caked hair and vacant eyes are usually hiding a pain the likes of which most people cannot even fathom. Third, gossip sucks. And when hate is being flung by those hiding behind religion, that is even worse. Branding poor Ruby a Jezebel, a devil, and a loon, when it was one of their beloved pastors who took her to Miss Barbara to begin with. Fourth, things are not always as they seem. Like I said last week, there are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth. Better have your facts straight before you go charging on some holy mission of redemption or condemnation. Fifth, and lastly, just because you are bigger, doesn’t mean you have the right to use your power over somebody else.

My mother was a bra-burning hippie and quite a feminist. In her early twenties, while in California, she was in a bar one night playing pool. A guy came up and joined her. She beat the guy. He took mighty offense to being beaten by a woman, so he followed her home. She put on Benny Hill then went to the bathroom. He was there when she opened the door. He smacked her in the face (you could feel the chip in her jaw), then stabbed her three times in the throat. Afterwards, he violated her bleeding dying body. The cops told her she shouldn’t have been dressed like such a slut. Yeah…he was never charged.

I do not know what it is like to be attacked like that, but I do know what it is like to be raised by a parent who was. She also had an “Uncle” who was overtly fond of little girls. And an ex who almost succeeded in killing her, but instead slashed the throats of her two beloved Great Danes, Azar the Great and Attilla the Runt. All of this, and more, happened before I was born. In fact, I am not even supposed to be here. The stabbing and the rape that followed was too traumatic. She also wasn’t supposed to talk. Which just goes to show you that miracles can happen.

I have about 50 pages left of Ruby….I just hope it has a happy ending. But where it stands right now….

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Even Oprah approves!!

Dissecting Understanding: Part II–Three Sides To Every Story

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This Sunday I wanted to continue dissecting the meaning of the word understanding. This time, I want to discuss the idea of different sides. There is always another side, another heart to be broken, another viewpoint to be seen…and can we truly understand the other side? Can we honestly know what it feels like to be on the other side??

After last week’s Philosophy Sunday post, I received a text message about it from a very good friend, Sarah. Sarah is a very intelligent young lady; she is logical, introspective, analytical, opinionated, and deep. I love her! The questions she posed to me following last week’s post combined with the novel I just finished reading and a spot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 3, will be the basis of this weeks post.

Sarah First:

Sarah: I love your blog post for today. Such an interesting question. Do you think understanding means to be known by others, or to be known and appreciated/respected by others?

Funky: I think understanding is the acceptance of others, even if they don’t know you. Understanding that you can’t understand everything. And offer respect, because you accept.

Sarah: Understanding that you can’t understand everything. I like that. Because I don’t feel like I understand other people in the sense of what their motivations or intentions or desires are. Or how to respond to others, lol.

Funky: That is one of the hardest things to understand! And most people cannot even answer that question for themselves! “Why did I do that? Honestly?” I’m slowly beginning to accept that I won’t always know the why,,,

Sarah: That is probably true but so frustrating to my analytical brain! Haha a guy actually broke up with me because I asked him why he did/thought/said something too often. And because I’m not Christian, but minor details :p

Funky: You’re telling me!! This former Christian really wants to understand the REASON of life, the meaning, the method, the why’s-this-(bad word)-so-hard….but no. And ha, I had this guy quit being my friend cuz I asked him why he broke up with me, too often. He never did give me an answer. That was my first bf.

Sarah: How is it so hard to just give an answer? That’s so annoying haha.

Funky: Maybe they don’t understand the question?

Sarah: I think a lot of people in general just don’t care about their deeper feelings and motivations. You, Megan (Lollipop), and I are more introspective people by nature, so we’re more able to articulate and understand our feelings.

Funky: Oooh! Very wise!! Too true. Eh, I understand that people suck, generally, haha!

“I don’t feel like I understand other people in the sense of what their motivations or intentions or desires are…” This is so unbelievably frustrating, don’t you think? I have no idea why my first boyfriend broke up with me, and I have little to no idea why I am single now, hahaha! Maybe it is, as it may have been then, because I ask too many questions. I ask too much of people. I want to know people, through and through, so that I can understand their motivations, intentions, and desires. Why does the question, “Why?” bother so many people? What does it really take to dissect your own intentions so that you could possibly give someone else a reasonable answer that they could understand? Of course, I also know that other-side to this particular coin, when you get the straight answer and it is so far beyond what you want to hear that it breaks your little heart…For example: “Why did you not want to go out with me?” Sad eyes and gaping mouth from the young man I posed this question to, “Is it because I’m fat?” …….”Well….yeah….” Oooh! Burn!

I also like the last statement Sarah made, that “a lot of people in general just don’t care about their deeper feelings and motivations.” Very sad, but probably true! Sometimes searching yourself for the deeper meaning often brings to light some unsatisfactory realizations about yourself. Like the young man I just spoke of, he found out he is a shallow jerk, hahaha!

The Dark-Hunter Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon **Possible Spoiler!!!**

“There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.” One of my favorite fictional characters, Archeron Parthenopaeus, consistently gives this advice to the men he leads; which is ironic only in the sense that he did not take his own advice and he is a topic of conversation in this blog. “Everyone creates their own reality,” a bit of advice from Archeron’s twin brother, Styxx. This means that every single event that happens is dissected, assimilated, and committed to memory on an individual basis. You and I might witness the exact same thing, but my memory of it will be different from yours, and because my past is different from your past, this new information will affect me differently than it will you, and our own emotions will color the memory differently as well. So, you will have your side, I will have mine, and the truth is that middle ground, what actually happened if we were to abolish the individual perceptions.

I have read several Sherrilyn Kenyon novels, including most of the Dark-Hunter series. If you have never read any of her books, do not start with Styxx! Ugh! Such a good book! But you definitely need the love and respect for Archeron before you hear Styxx’s side of the story. All of these books include at least one Greek God, and whatever pantheon that the new Dark-Hunter hails from. Styxx starts out waaaaay back in the day, when Atlantis was still a city to be respected and feared. In fact, this book gives a pretty plausible reason as to why the city of Atlantis is no more. The reason I say that it is plausible is because, according to this book, it was destroyed by its own gods–whom seemed to be every bit as back-stabbing, vengeful, and spiteful as the Greek gods! Anyway, this book made me cry about 100 times, and it is the epitome of the three-sides-to-every-story mantra!

So Styxx and Archeron are twins, born to the King and Queen of Didymos, but their birth wasn’t the happy occasion that it should have been because the gods were involved. Archeron, having obvious signs of his true parentage, is basically discarded. Taken in by his horrible Uncle Estes, he is on the outside looking in at his perfect brother who has everything that Archeron could ever want–most especially the love of their father and the title of Prince of Didymos. Obviously Styxx’s life is perfect and beautiful and he is nothing but a spoiled little brat that doesn’t want for anything and doesn’t appreciate it; while Archeron is treated like the unwanted excrement of the worst of whores. Lo and behold, Archeron doesn’t know jack! Styxx’s life is not good! Not beautiful! And he is not a spoiled arrogant little prince, and in some ways, Archeron has it way better than Styxx does! For over 11,000 years (because they’re immortal, duh), these two are wracked with hatred and pain! They’re twins, it should be brother’s, always and forever…but it wasn’t.

Eventually, they know how the other feels, felt, and survived. I don’t want to give too much away, because I totally recommend reading this book, but I was literally yelling at the characters to listen to each other, to stand up for the other, and to just say it!!! I swear a little communication goes a long way! When someone actually stands up for Styxx, I celebrated! Bah! Terrible, uplifting, nightmare-inducing, laugh out loud, horrifyingly beautiful book. Full of revelations and people learning the sometimes terrible consequences of actions made in anger. So, read Styxx, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, but don’t make it your first Dark-Hunter Novel, or else you will just hate Archeron, and he is special and beautiful, even if he was absolutely horrible to his brother.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, The Introduction of Faith

Here is another prime example of three sides to every story! Here’s Buffy, the one and only slayer…in Sunnydale, California, that is. Just in case you have never seen the show, there is supposed to be only one slayer born every generation. Once one dies, the next is called. What’s special about Buffy is that she did die, but she didn’t stay dead. She had drowned, but Xander was able to revive her. However, she technically died, so another slayer was called…and that one died in season two. Sorry Kendra! The end of season 2, Buffy had to kill her true love, Angel. This put her in such a bad head-space that she bailed…totally ran away from everyone and everything. So when she came back, all who were left in Sunnydale were mad at her, hurt by her. So not only is Buffy dealing with the loss of her love all by herself, everyone is stand-offish and mistrusting. Buffy feels justified by her leaving, and the gang feels angry and alone. It was hard to reconcile! And then, here comes Faith, the newest of the slayers! She is a frisky little slayer who, like Archeron, was on the outside looking in at Buffy’s perfect little slayer life–a mom who knows and cares, friends who help, and an obvious bond with her watcher. All Buffy sees in Faith is everyone’s joy at having a new member of the group, who is cooler, hotter, and more interesting. Both Buffy and Faith forgot to look for the bad. They forgot to look beyond their own jealousy to actually see what the other’s life is actually like. As a result, Buffy and Faith have a tumultuous relationship, taking them almost four seasons to truly appreciate one another.

There are three sides to every story–yours, mine, and the truth. The truth is the hardest one to see, because we, as human beings, see everything tainted with our own emotions. Is it possible to see? I mean, I will never be able to see the world from your eyes, so is it even possible for me to truly understand it? If I heard the truth of the matter right now, would I accept it? Or would it be tainted as soon as my brain processed it? I just don’t know.

So, as you go about your business this week, think about these things; especially if there is some sort of altercation! Try to remove yourself from the equation, and look at it as if from an outsider perspective. How did you come across? What did you do from their perspective? Why did you do that? What were your motivations and intentions? How would you feel if you did this to yourself? Trying to be an outsider looking into your own life is rather difficult, but understanding our own motivations might help us understand others…

Dissecting Understanding: Part I

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Understanding….a seemingly simple word, and yet it is one of the hardest virtues to master. What is understanding? What does it mean?

Yes, in school, it means that you get it. You understand that 2+2=4. You may not completely understand why….as one question my favorite philosophy teacher posed: “Do numbers truly exist? Is seven a real thing?” As to that question, I have no idea. I never understood questions like that, haha! But yes, in school, understanding means that you get it.

What about people? Can the same principal be applied to the understanding of people? How understanding are we towards our fellow man? What does understanding mean then? What does it mean to truly understand who, what, and why a person is the way that they are?

I think a lot of it is empathy, but to be able to empathize, you need to relate. There are way too many situations in the world for any one person to empathize with them all. In fact, that life sounds like it could be outrageously pleasant and horrendously terrifying at the same time. Therefore we cannot, or wouldn’t want to, possess the ability to completely empathize with every single person every time. So what do we do then? Do we pretend to understand? Do we brush them under the rug? Do we completely flip out on them because there is absolutely no way we could understand their actions, so therefore they are in the wrong?

What does it mean? Do we need to understand everyone? Would the world be a better place if we could?

The reason I ask is because I am one of those people who is almost crippled by the need for people to understand me. I already told you that I am a walking contradiction….and even this contributes to that image. I want to be viewed as a rebel who doesn’t care what the world thinks, and yet I am offended when you do think ill of me. I lay out all of my ‘ness’ to allow you the opportunity to pick the reasons as to why you could hate me, yet it really hurts my feelings when you do. People understanding me is very important to me.

I do not think I am special enough to believe I am the only one who feels as thus. I’m sure a lot of people do. Is it pride? Is it wrong?

All I can do is practice my ability to understand others. Fortunately for the world, unfortunately for me, I can empathize with most of the bad, so at least I have that. I haven’t had the worst life, by any means–my life is profoundly blessed! I had two amazing parents, fantastic friends, and I’ve always had a roof over my head and food in my belly, but I have been touched by a lot of darkness, so I get it, lbvs! One of the bad things about having blessings? They can be taken away from you. For example, I had the best mom EVER!! (No offense to any great mother out there!) And I had to watch my mother suffer and die–I heard the final breath that came out of her body. She was my bestest friend. It sucked. That is the word for it. That is not the only darkness I carry, but, for now, it is the worst.

What I need to work on is not being jealous of those with what I would call “silly” problems–because it is only silly to me! Not to them. I may wish I could have problems like that, but I don’t. And they weren’t the ones who caused mine, so it isn’t fair to hold it against them, is it? I am not going to give an example here, just in case that example happens to be the issue you are currently working through, haha! No judgement from me!

So what is understanding? How do we achieve it if we just don’t get it? If I cannot understand why you are feeling pain right now, does it lessen your pain? Do I need to understand? What is the difference between understanding and acceptance? Can I accept what I don’t understand?

Well…I think I found the direction for Part II, anyway. Understanding is very dear to me. In fact, for a high school project, we had to write a eulogy for our own tombstone. I do not remember exactly what I said, but I know, “She just wanted to be understood…” was in there somewhere! So we will revisit this topic. For now…

What does understanding mean to you?