Personal Post Thursday! Yay! This is a topic I think is super awesome.
In college, I had an off-the-wall professor who tried to open our eyes to all kinds of odd and out-of-the-box ways of thinking. One day, he asked us how we saw the world.
We didn’t really know what he meant. I mean, it’s the world, right? It’s a planet. There’s water and dirt.
No, he explained. How do you SEE the world? What is it made up of?
We still didn’t get it.
Clearly pleased that we were about to have a lightbulb moment, he continued with examples. Some people, for example, see the world in patterns. Everywhere they look, they see endless patterns. For other people, it’s music. The world is comprised of notes and songs to create an endless song. And even others see the world in numbers, an endless math equation just waiting to be solved.
Suddenly, it clicked for us. Oh, we said, what makes up the world from our perspective?
My first reaction was to say that I see the world in words. I’m constantly reading everything around me, looking for words in my mind to describe what I’m seeing and what is happening. But I realized that wasn’t quite right. I didn’t see the world in words.
I see the world in stories.
Everything around me has a story. I’m constantly searching out a new story or an ending to an ongoing story. When I look at people walking in the mall, I see their stories. I see the five year old trailing behind them. I see their tired eyes. I see the way they glance at their appearance in the store windows, frowning slightly as they pass.
When I look at an old building, I see its past. I see the people who used to work there. I see the way it must have looked in its prime. I see the history that must have happened on the sidewalks outside of it.
When I listen to music, I hear the stories in the lyrics. When I look at old mementos, I feel the comfort they gave me and the people who were there with me. Even words have stories! Their etymology explains where the words came from and what they originally meant.
Everywhere I look, there are stories. I can’t escape from them, not that I want to. This is why I love TV shows, movies, and books so much. I love getting lost in a story. I love feeling like I’ve gone on those adventures with them. And when I write stories of my own, I fuse my own story with theirs.
I guess what this all means is that my mind classifies events by what story they belong to. I may not be able to tell you the date something happened on, but I can tell you what someone was wearing. I may not be able to tell you what we talked about, but I can tell you that they laughed and almost snorted their drink out their nose.
I truly believe that knowing how someone sees the world can help us understand each other. The guy I was dating at the time saw the world in numbers, which is so opposite of me. But it also meant that I understood when he needed numbers to feel like he was in control. It didn’t mean that I needed to be looking for someone else who saw the world in stories; it just meant I knew what made him comfortable. We were opposites that complemented each other.
And there are so many different ways to see the world. I think some see the world in colors, in artistic possibilities, in the mechanics of how things work, in statistics. Some see it in movement, in languages, in history, in puzzles. All of us are different. We may not find someone who sees the world in the same way we do, but that’s ok. We may learn something from people who see the world differently from ourselves.
So, the question remains, how do YOU see the world?