Not so long ago, an outspoken person I know was described to me as a “person who tells it like it is.” I replied, “Incorrect. That person tells it like they see it and how they see it is almost NEVER how it is!” The point was conceded in my favor.
Often what we perceive is wrong.
There is the Midwestern tall tale of a murder of crows flying over a popcorn field on a sizzling hot day. The heat became so intense and the air so moist, the popcorn began to pop right off the cobs! The crows looked down, thought it was snowing and they all froze to death.
I wonder how often our “how it is” isn’t how it is at all?
I wonder how many people freeze to death on the hottest day of the year because of faulty perception?
I suppose is okay to call slightly above average things “awesome” or slightly below average things “horrific” but when hyperbole rules our minds, we become convinced of a world that does not really exist. When things are perceived by us as “awesome,” we might feel on top of the world and when things are perceived “horrific,” we feel it is the end of the world. We swing manically, radiate at high speeds and operate with a significantly distorted world view. In reality, our highs and lows are much closer together than we might think.
Much of our faulty perception has to do with placing ourselves at the center of the cosmos. Like those who lived before Christopher Columbus, we become convinced the world is flat because it looks flat to us. Our perception is our reality and sometimes our reality is dead wrong. It hurts our feelings to be informed we are not always right or reminded that we are not the center of the cosmos. Sometimes it is painful when we realize our “perception panel” can give us faulty readings but that is the harsh reality of the matter. The next time you feel overwhelmed to the point of despair; remember that perception is often an illusion. Things are seldom as bad as they appear.
Remember the crows.
Get some perspective, hold it steady and realize the snowstorm you don’t think you can survive is usually nothing but some flying popcorn after all. And instead of freezing, why not fill a bag and have a little snack?
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.