Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Eye of the Beholder (II)

I guess beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. While walking across the street this morning, I saw what I thought was a beautiful round white stone shining in the sun. I walked towards it, wanting to pick it up and hold it, maybe even keep it. I had a feeling of peace, gratitude, joy at finding such a lovely object on a sunny spring morning.

As I got closer, I felt confusion as my brain scrambled to recalculate what my eyes were looking at. It was not a beautiful round white stone. It was a round white plastic cap.

Oh. Now it did not seem beautiful. It was ugly. It was not a treasure I wanted. It was trash to be disposed of. I did not feel peace and gratitude and joy. I felt irritated at the person who littered the street with this plastic cap. I felt dismay at all the plastic congesting our beleaguered planet.

That poor little cap was just sitting there in the street minding its own business and I managed in the span of ten seconds to go from loving and wanting it, to disliking and rejecting it. I had two completely different reactions to this single little item that remained unchanged by what was happening in my mind. Wow.

What a simple and revealing example of how we engage with the world around us. There is a stimulus of some kind. I label it, correctly or incorrectly. Based on the label, I have an emotional reaction to it, positive or negative. I might tell myself a story about it. Now I am engaged with my story. I am living in my story. The original stimulus is long forgotten.

Something to think about….

Note: I wrote a similar post a while back about thinking that a rat was a squirrel. Apparently this is a lesson that needs repeating.

14 thoughts on “Eye of the Beholder (II)”

  1. I was afraid someone would ask me that! And I'm embarrassed to say I didn't. I was so caught up in my mind switcharoo, that I just walked away. I thought about it later and realized that I could have easily picked it up and thrown it away. Definitely a lapse on my part!

  2. How our minds can be so fickle, Galen, and play tricks on us when we least expect it. However, the silver lining here is, when you spotted the cap at first, you expected the best, not the worst. A positive attitude goes a long way, but maintaining it in the light of disappointment? That's a gift from God!

  3. It's a good lesson on how we react to our surroundings. I wrote about something similar not long ago, and it's important to remember that we can decide to see the world around us with eyes of love rather than of annoyance. Thanks for the reminder, Galen.

  4. Your experience is one we all have, sometimes several times a day. Our mind decides something and then is forced to recalculate when reality intrudes.

    Great little story. Until I read the post I thought it was an aspirin dropped by someone racing home from the drug store!

  5. I know. I have these experiences with auditory as well as visual misperceptions. That one caught my attention because my emotional reactions were in such contrast.

    Glad you enjoyed the story, Bob. Thanks for commenting (funny comment about the aspirin!).

  6. This is an instructive moment, thanks for sharing it Galen! It reminds me of that scene in American Beauty where the neighbor kid films a plastic bag dancing in the wind. I was not a fan of that movie for many reasons (haha, I'm revealing my own curmudgeonly "reactiveness" here) but that scene will always resonate with me. Something we think of garbage becoming something beautiful regardless.

  7. I LOVE that scene, 3K. Like you, not my favorite movie. But that scene has stayed with me. For that moment, that plastic bag really was beautiful. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  8. Ooo, Galen, I love this post! Right up my street, no pun intended. Being fooled somehow by visual interpretation of the senses. I thought that cap was a giant white pill. It is also casting a dramatic shadow, which aids it's mystery. Finding beauty in everydays things which one would normally consider ugly is a fascinating pastime and gives me an idea for a blog post some time, if I may borrow this stimulus from you.Cheers for now :>)

  9. Yes of course. The idea is certainly not original with me. The more we remind ourselves that our brain's interpretations are not always accurate, the better! Like the book title says, don't believe everything you think!

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