Monday, January 17, 2011

Things are not what they seem

I caught my husband's cold this week. I could feel it building in the early part of the week, and it finally erupted full force on Friday, so I spent the weekend mostly sleeping and coughing.

Which means I spent the weekend watching how difficult it is for me not to "do stuff."  This is actually not a bad time for me to get sick; there's nothing too demanding on my plate, no exhibits to prepare for, a bare minimum of schoolwork, lots of dry reading (that puts me to sleep)...

But still, something in me keeps feeling I should DO something.  And another voice somewhere inside worries that by taking drugs I only prolong the cold.  So I try to spend part of each day without drugs, and then the cough takes over and it seems to take forever to get it back under control.  In the end, what happens is that any illusions I might have had about being an essentially rational person are pretty much shattered by illness...  Clearly I am at the mercy of any number of unconscious drivers from my childhood!

So why this picture?  This is a completely unaltered photo, taken through the car window on the way back from Portland last weekend.  I suspect I shot it because the sky was manifesting some lovely colors, but somehow this was all the camera registered.  And at first glance, in my current Nyquil-induced haze, it had a definite urban/apocalyptic feel.  But actually, upon closer examination, I remember where it was taken, and we were definitely driving along a very rural stretch of highway.  There are no smokestacks here, only trees and telephone poles; no smoke but simply clouds; no fire, but simply the dying rays of the sun.

So I'm thinking this is yet another example of the many ways in which our vision is colored by our own experiences, and by our states of mind.  What looks like the end of the world -- when our gaze is filtered through hormones or recent experiences or drugs or preconceived notions -- may actually be the dawn of some new day; not an extraordinary calamity but simply a natural progression of events.

So the next time you go off on a tear of righteous indignation, I invite you to stop a second before you speak or write your vitriolic rebuttal, and just ask yourself: What is it about this situation that triggers me?  What am I not seeing? and then take another 24 hours to evaluate how best to serve the world with your response...

2 comments:

Maureen said...

Hope you feel better soon.

Diane Walker said...

Thanks, Maureen -- I'm working on it!