Tag Archives: communication

I Did Not Say That!

I am convinced that my Dictation Software is actually a 15-year-old pimply boy wearing socks with Flip-flops and sweatpants sitting in his mother’s basement chewing bubble-gum. I know this because some of his auto corrections on my blog are . . .   Shall we say inappropriate. Which of course means I have to share. As an example: this is what happened when I left a comment on a post at nofacilities.com:  You’re a penis Arnel serve yourself. That’s what auto correct said! No joke. This is what I said:  Your peanuts are now serve yourself? Dan had shared a picture of a bag of peanuts on his back deck. He feeds the squirrels, usually.

Now I am not a prude. I didn’t go ballistic at the word penis. It’s a word. But I do find it hilarious how so many of these auto check changes are sexual in nature. Does that not scream teenage boy? Now when it comes to profanity. . . (I worked for the police for 30 years I am not afraid of profanity.   I actually have quite a litany of vulgar verbiage at my disposal.) Spell check has no trouble spelling expletives perfectly. I get cranky and I get annoyed at auto correct. Because basically, it’s not correct! And it infuriates me when I’m taking great care to enunciate correctly and it prints something that isn’t even a bloody word! Sorry, redhead, temper. I can understand changes with the spelling. I may not like it but I understand it. I am Canadian and the spellcheck is American. There are certain words that we do spell differently, for example: humour and humor.  Oh, my word, spellcheck got that one right! I guess that pimply 15-year-old was listening.  Ha ha ha!

Throughout the ages so many have named their devices. The golf club that’s called Big Bertha, men naming their cars after well, something they probably won’t want to explain. I have never really felt the need. But sometimes I want to have somebody to yell at in my frustration and it really is absolutely no fun at all to yell at a device that has no feeling. So, if I have a teenager hiding in his mom’s basement to be annoyed with, I’m good!

 

 

Pulchritude

How can a word that means beauty, come out sounding like spit? No, really, it does. Or how about the sound a cat makes just before he lands a hairball on your brand-new living room rug? It is not a pretty word. It has a beautiful meaning but the word itself is unattractive.  And yet the word ugly actually looks kind of cute. All those curly bits. Confused yet? Read on…

I love words for their meaning but they also have other attributes. They can visually form patterns that are pleasing to the eye or perhaps discordant. I know most people don’t look at words that way but I do. I do not like the word yellow and yet I love the colour, some shades.  Why you wonder? I have no idea. I know what I like the look of, exactly the same way I know what I like the taste of. I don’t like beets. It’s as simple as that. Using beets to dye something can be incredible. They have the most extraordinary colour but I don’t like the taste of them.

There are several forms of poetry that are restrictive. Allowing only a certain number of syllables per line which actually forms an image. A shape that is pleasing to the eye. Was it intentional? Possibly, I don’t know.  What I do know is that some poetry forms are not as pleasing to look at. Again, is it intentional? Probably not. How many people do you know that are so twisted that they look at the image of the word on a page as well as its meaning? I don’t imagine there are too many of us.

When I write poetry or prose, I am always aware of how it looks on the page. Are there too many paragraphs? Are there too few?  I find different fonts are more comfortable, more pleasing to the eye. I think aesthetics is a big part of our understanding simply because if we find something pleasant to look at, we are more likely to invest more time reading the words. If I’m reading a book that is uncomfortable, I will put it aside. If the words are that compelling, I might go back but I might not.

Another thing I am constantly aware of is cadence. Perhaps more so in poetry because it does have a singsong quality to it, in my opinion. But it is also there in prose.  Long sentences tend to promote comfort unless they are too long in which case they are irritating. Short sentences are like short burst of energy. The words, the meanings are sharp and cutting. Using words that are over long and verbose is like having two types of gravy for the same meal:  unnecessary. If used properly words have such incredible power. They have the capacity to love, to hate, to cajole and to succour. Please use them responsibly.

 

The Empty Chair 

An empty chair beside his bed,

An old man lay alone.

He thought of all that he had done,

And how he could atone.

 

He did not know the words to use,

To speak to God above.

A Priest once said you only need,

To speak your words with love.

 

Place a chair beside your bed,

And Christ will sit with you.

Never fear, He knows your truth,

He knows just what to do.

 

Every night the man did try,

To speak to Him above.

He spoke his truths and his woes,

He spoke it all with love.

 

The chair beside him spoke one night,

And asked if it was time.

“Come with me and be at peace,

Together we will climb.”

 

“To heights untold where angels sing,

My Father waits with pride.

Hold my hand and we will fly,

The world will have to bide.”

 

The sun did rise to greet the day,

And our hero breathed his last.

Content of heart and smiling lips,

He took the hand as asked.

 

 

 

Sweet Valentine

Madeline stood across the street for a moment thinking about what she was about to do.  She had always considered herself an intelligent woman; she had a good career and a lovely new home.  She believed that she was mildly attractive.  And yet, she was lonely.  Her divorce had come through a few weeks ago, just before a job offer here, in what for her was a new town.  She had no family and no friends nearby.  Essentially, she was starting her life over. Alright, she thought.  Change is in the air.  Let’s do it! She squared her shoulders and crossed the street to the Pet Adoption Agency.

When Madeline entered, a young woman behind the desk immediately looked up and smiled.  A huge, tabby, feline-like creature also looked up, yawned and promptly went back to sleep.  Upon closer inspection, it was indeed just a very large cat.  He sat, or more correctly sprawled across the top of the desk.  It seemed to be a generous desktop, but underneath this huge feline it almost looked small.

“Hello,” said Madeline, “I’m looking to adopt a cat.”

The young woman’s smile became even more pronounced.

“Well, we can certainly help you with that.  Are you looking for any particular breed, sex, or colour?”

As the two women spoke, the huge cat raised its head, yawned once again and stretched out a paw to Madeline. Almost without thinking she scratched behind his ears, and smiled for the first time in days.

“He likes you, and he’s available for adoption.”

“What exactly is he?  He’s so big. It’s a he, isn’t it?”

The young woman behind the desk chuckled.  “Yes, he’s a cat.  He’s a Maine Coon; they’re an extremely large breed. But they’re very gentle, curious and they like people a lot.  He would make a great companion.”

Madeline thought about it for a moment. “Why is he here? He certainly seems well fed and content. Is there something wrong with him?” She wanted someone to share her new life with, but she wasn’t sure she was ready to take on any complications.

For the first time since Madeline had walked in the door the young woman lost her smile.

“It’s sad. He was abandoned, left alone in an empty apartment.  Someone just packed up their belongings and left. It’s awful that anyone would do that to such a beautiful creature.”

The anger on this young woman’s face was obvious. Madeline shared it. Cruelty to animals was one of her pet peeves.

“Does he have a name?”

“He was found with a name tag: Valentine.”

Madeline’s heart missed a beat. Maybe she was too much of a romantic. Valentine’s Day was just a few weeks away, maybe it was a sign that she should take this abandoned cat into her heart.  At least he wouldn’t steal her blankets in the middle of the night like her ex-husband used to, well, hopefully.

Several hours later, after filling out the paperwork and the cat having one final check-up, Madeline took her new roommate home. It wasn’t a long drive and Valentine was surprisingly calm throughout. She was curious to see what his first reaction would be to his new lodgings.

The condominium Madeline had recently purchased was quite comfortable but not overly large.  She didn’t think a cat would take up that much room.  Of course, that was before she met Valentine.

When she set the pet traveling case down on the floor,   Valentine refused to venture out. She peered inside but he didn’t look afraid, he was quite comfortably curled up at the back of the carrier.  With a little coaxing he did amble out and for the next hour he investigated every corner, every nook and cranny in the apartment.  Madeline made herself comfortable on the couch and watched.  Of course, there were a few times she had to get up to go and open a door or cupboard because Valentine could be quite insistent. His meowing was surprisingly loud.  He wanted to see it all. Fortunately, in his wanderings he had found his water dish, his food dish and his kitty litter.  Everything had, apparently, been deemed acceptable.

Eventually Valentine returned to where Madeline was sitting, jumped up onto her lap, turned around twice, curled up into a sizeable a ball and went to sleep.  Madeline smiled and figured there was going to be a substantial part of her life that would now be spent not moving so as not to disturb her beautiful tabby roommate.

Valentine continued to explore over the next several days.  He had to get used to his new home, and both of them had to get used to a new routine. When Madeline looked into the eyes of her newly-acquired companion, she saw intelligence and perhaps a little mischief.  His eyes were liquid gold with flecks of amber.  White and black whiskers stood out at a sharp angle from his all-white mouth.  Evidently a trait of the Maine Coon cat was a long and full coat. Valentine had that in abundance. Curling up with him on a cold winter’s night was going to be like cuddling up with a warm blanket, one that purred.

It seemed that Valentine had behaviours more in common with a dog than with a cat. He liked to be a part of whatever Madeline was doing.  He found it necessary to go through her clothes and the drawers they were in.  He wanted access to all the cupboards and he was not shy about telling her so, loudly.  He also liked to be fed at particular times.  Madeline felt that she should have a sign made:  “Humans Trained Here”.  Valentine was a great coach.

There was something else that Valentine insisted on: physical contact. He would sit on her desk as she worked, just within reach.  If Madeline didn’t pet him, then he would reach out a paw and touch her, repeatedly. He was by no means an aloof cat; he liked attention. And when he got it, he purred like a small outboard motor.

Valentine became her salvation.  He needed her. She came home from work every night tired, and every night he was waiting for her at the door. He greeted her with bright eyes and a welcoming purr.

Over the next several weeks things went well for Madeline and Valentine. Then, early one evening, the phone rang and everything changed.

A deep, strong voice identified himself as Martin Gordon.  “A mistake has been made and I believe you have my cat.”

Suddenly, Madeline’s world turned upside down.  Valentine was a part of her now, an important part.  She could not imagine having to give him up.  He was her Sweet Valentine.  She also knew that she had to listen to this man, to hear what he had to say.  The Pet Adoption Agency would never have given him her number had he been a flake.

When Madeline opened the door an hour later, she was presented with a well-dressed gentleman, tall, and extremely attractive. His hair curled up just behind his ears like a little boy’s. His shoulders were wide.  He obviously took care of himself.  It was almost funny but he did have his hat in his hands.  He also had a story to tell.

Madeline invited Martin in and he began to speak as he moved towards the couch and sat down.

“My mother is widowed and lives alone in England. I received a call stating that she was gravely ill. She wasn’t expected to live.  I was the only one who could take care of her affairs, her estate.”

He paused for a breath and continued.

“I immediately made arrangements with my next-door neighbour to take care of Valentine while I was away.  I thought I was only going to be gone for a few weeks.  And while I didn’t know her well, I believed Valentine would be safe with her.”

Martin went on to explain how his mother had miraculously survived her illness. She didn’t want to come and live with him so he was forced to make arrangements for a live-in companion. He couldn’t leave her until he was certain she would be well cared for.  As a result, he was out of the country for more than three months.

Madeline sat pensive and sombre on a chair across from Martin, waiting for him to continue.

“I made the mistake of trusting the wrong person.”

Madeline could see the pain on his face.

“She was a young woman and I had only known her for a few months but Valentine seemed to like her.  While I was in England, final arrangements were made for a house I had recently purchased and since Valentine was going to be living in my neighbour’s apartment, I felt it was a perfect opportunity for the movers to come in and pack up my apartment. Unfortunately, the woman I trusted with Valentine proved to be irresponsible.  She moved.  She didn’t want to take Valentine so she just left him. She didn’t even try to contact me. According to a neighbour, the superintendent found a cat in her empty apartment and called animal control.  I never thought an indoor cat needed an identity chip.  Obviously, I was very wrong.  Now I regret that decision.”

It was starting to rain outside, Madeline noticed.  Perhaps it was appropriate for the mood she was beginning to feel.

“I was devastated,” said Martin.

When he returned from overseas, Martin was in a state of panic.  The young woman had not returned any of his calls for several weeks and he had imagined the worst. The superintendent didn’t know about his cat. Another neighbour told him about her move and about animal control picking up a cat.  He spent the next few weeks trying to find Valentine.  Unfortunately, there is no central database for animals and he was forced to go to each individual agency, veterinarian’s office, and pet store in his search. What he discovered was that animals were not kept for long.  They are sometimes given to other agencies in the hopes of adoption and sometimes euthanized.  It was several weeks before he happened on the right agency.  They remembered Valentine.

Martin looked around the apartment.  His eyes grew large.  Valentine wasn’t here.

“Please tell me you actually have Valentine,” he said, a desperate tone in his voice.

“I have him.”  Madeline’s voice was low.  She had to accept that Valentine belonged to this man.  But she didn’t want to believe it.  She had grown to love her Sweet Valentine.  The thought of giving him up brought tears to her eyes.   But as she looked at this man, she could see that he also felt as she did.  They both loved the same cat.

Madeline stood.  A second later, so did Martin.

“I gave Valentine to a neighbour,” whispered Madeleine.  , “I needed to be sure, I needed… I’m sorry.  I’ll get… I’ll get Valentine.” With that she left the apartment.

Martin continued to stand, waiting, unsure what to do.

A moment later Madeline returned hugging the large cat tightly in her arms.  When Valentine caught sight of the visitor he jumped down, raced across the room and leapt into Martin’s arms.

Madeline could only watch as the two companions became reacquainted.  Martin had tears in his eyes. She could hear Valentine’s purr from across the room.  They belonged together.

After a moment, Martin raised his head.  “Thank you,” he whispered, but the message was loud and clear: she had lost Valentine. Unable to watch the two any longer, Madeline set about gathering Valentine’s belongings.

“I have… I have some food… and toys… and… and…”

She was trying very hard to maintain her dignity.  She would not cry in front of this stranger.  But he was taking her Sweet Valentine!

“Please, Ms. Bellamy—”

“My name is Madeline.”

“Please, Madeline, please sit for a moment.”  Madeleine sat as requested, but she couldn’t look Martin in the eye.

The moment she was seated, Valentine left Martin’s embrace and jumped into her lap.  He now wanted her attention.  And his purr was as loud as it had been for Martin.

“It seems we have a dilemma.”  She could hear the smile in Martin’s voice before she looked up to confirm it.

“We both love Valentine.  And he obviously loves both of us.  I think we need to have joint custody.”

Madeline could not believe her ears.  She wasn’t going to lose her Sweet Valentine!

“As I mentioned, I have bought a house,” continued Martin.  “It’s only two blocks from here. I’m often away on business and I am sure Valentine would love to spend any time he doesn’t spend with me, with you. We’re going to be neighbours; we could also be friends.”

Madeline hugged Valentine even closer.  She didn’t want Martin to see her tears falling.  Her Sweet Valentine was not leaving.  She could share him, especially with this very attractive gentleman standing in her parlour.

“Thank you.  I do love my Sweet Valentine and I’d love to share him with you.”

“It’s going to take me a few weeks to get settled in my new home.  Would you be willing to keep Valentine here and let me visit him every day?”

Madeline didn’t trust herself to speak again; she just smiled and nodded.

On her lap the object of their mutual affection looked from Madeline to Martin and purred.

Ah yes, thought Valentine, washing his immaculate whiskers with his paw, humans are so easily manipulated.

 

 

 

The Truth in Advertising

“WE SELL STEEPED TEA!” They make this sound as if it’s something special. Steeping is simply the process in which you turn water into tea. (Now if they could turn that water into wine . . .)  Or the commercial about how they sell beef that has been ‘grass fed’. What do you think they’ve been eating?

Advertisers understand that if you say something loud enough and with enough enthusiasm you can get a lot of people excited about it. Even if they don’t know what it is. And who can remember the jingles from your childhood about food? I remember more than I like to admit to. It’s the jingles that get people excited. And excited people buy stuff.  There are some truly amazing commercials out there that are touching and poignant and memorable. The polar bears, the Clydesdale horses, the puppy dog lost in the rain. You don’t forget these commercials.

“POP-A-MATIC POP A DICE!  POP A SIX AND YOU MOVE TWICE! I don’t remember the game but I can’t stop thinking about the jingle. Or how about:  “MY BOLOGNA HAS A FIRST NAME . . .” That’s how I learn to spell bologna!  I don’t hear many jingles anymore, at least not memorable ones. Commercials nowadays seem to be loud and annoying. And like so many people, I tape everything so I can fast forward through the commercials. I remember when I enjoyed the commercials, I was curious and entertained. But maybe the world has changed and it’s not quite so kind anymore.

I understand the job of an advertiser is to sell things. Hopefully in ways that are not illegal, immoral or unethical. That doesn’t say anything about telling the truth. But one can lie without actually doing so. It’s called obfuscation. I like this one a lot. Let me give you an example. A friend goes to a high price hairdresser to have her haircut for the first time. She spends 30 minutes in consultation before the scissors are even approached. Two hours later she comes out and is absolutely thrilled with her new do! And she asks you the inevitable… “What do you think?” Now do you tell her the truth: that her hair looks like it’s been cut by an eight-year-old on crack cocaine who has a twitching problem? Or do you obfuscate? “Wow”!  That could be a good wow or a could be an OMG wow. She’s not gonna know. Then you could say something like: “That’s a new look for you!” It’s all in the delivery and you have to sell it. This woman is happy with her hair, why would I want to change that. It may not be my taste but I’m not the important one here, she is.

To advertisers the buyers are not the important ones.  The clients that are selling the product, they are the ones that matter. They are the ones signing the cheques. So, we have that old adage: BUYER BEWARE! And that warning seems to apply to everything these days. Don’t take anything at face value and assume somebody’s trying to get something from you. What does that say about us?

 

Say What?

I speak English. I can say a smattering of  words in other languages but I am only fluent in one. And I must say I do enjoy this language. I enjoy it’s inefficiency, I enjoy it’s inexactitude. Let’s face it, it’s a bloody difficult language to learn. ‘We park on a driveway and we drive on a parkway’. Does that even make sense? We can use 10 words to say two and we can embellish like a master painter. It’s fun!

I admire people who come to this country with little or no English and they take the time and effort to speak well. I have met people that I did not know were not native born who spoke this language fluently. That impressed me. I think people who grow up here can be lazy. Oh hell, we can all be lazy! We slide into slang and we short form everything. And the double meanings can be hilarious. For example: ‘He wound a bandage around the wound’. And that’s not confusing?

I love to play with words. They are my sandbox. I was taught the rules on how to form a sentence, form a paragraph at a young age. Now, in some cases,  all of that goes out the window with me waving goodbye, jubilantly. Because sometimes the rules need to be broken. I’m not bending, I’m trashing.

While I definitely want to get my meaning across, I am also concerned with rhythm, with cadence. There is almost a musicality to my work. And I am not musically inclined, not by a long shot. But I hear these poems and stories in my head and they tell me where they want to go. Sometimes I go along for the ride and sometimes I fight them tooth and nail. I rarely win.

Now I know this makes me sound like a crazy woman. And maybe I am.(Are any of us actually sane? What is sane? Who decides? Sorry, tiny tangent, back on track.) I don’t know how my mind works but I know it spends a great deal of time moving words around. When I have a focus, an idea, my words tend to eddy around it like an embrace, a hug. I’ve written poems in 15 or 20 minutes simply because everything gelled quickly. Some of my best poems are written in far less time than would be expected. Other words need to percolate for a while. And then others sit for months, years and they won’t gel. And then one day everything falls into place.

Communication is the cornerstone of our species, of all species. Sometimes it is done well and unambiguously, other times it can cause wars. But we need more than just utilitarian communication. We need to sing. We need to reach for the stars with words and paint the planet with our prose. We need to plumb the depths of our psyche with expressions of our feelings, our wants and our desires.  We need to share our words. Together.

The Not So Simple Truth.

Last week I wrote a piece called The Art of the Lie. About how some people are really good at it and others not so much. So, this week I decided to write about the opposite, the truth. We desperately want to believe that the truth is simple, yes or no, one or zero but it is not. The truth is as malleable as wax on a hot sidewalk. Ask any police officer with three witnesses to a traffic accident, and you will find the truth of which I speak.  There will be three absolute, honest truths about what happened. They all saw the exact same thing but from different perspectives. And our perspectives are coloured by our history, our experiences and our beliefs.

Using the traffic accident as an example. A car careens into a pole. Sounds simple enough. One person sees a drunk careening across the road into a pole. A friend was killed by a drunk driver many years earlier. Another sees a person asleep at the wheel when the car plows into the pole. He had a friend who fell asleep on the way home from work. The third sees someone trying to commit suicide. A memory from his past.

As a species we are storytellers. Some go so far as to make a career out of it but each one of us tends to editorialize or to embellish what we see. We are not automatons; we use words to paint pictures. But what was it that our witnesses did not see? They could not imagine that the individual behind the wheel of the car had a medical emergency. A blood clot broke loose and travelled to his brain causing a stroke. His body reacted to the stroke by going into a full spasm forcing his foot down on the accelerator, leading to the accident. We can’t know what lies behind the truth. We either accept it at face value or investigate to learn the real truth, the whole truth. But most of us don’t do that. Most of us fill in the blanks with what we have experienced in our past. But what does that do to the truth?

The colour is yellow. Or is it Lemon? Gold? Canary?  We see the same colour but we interpret it differently. It is amazing to me that we can communicate at all. For the most part others understand what we mean when we use our words and yet some of our greatest humour comes from our misinterpretations. And also, some of our greatest tragedies. We don’t always understand each other’s truths. And it is open to interpretation.

Unsettled

When I sat down to write this post, I was a little flummoxed. There seems to be so much hatred seething about just below the surface. And some of it, of course, is erupting. Nothing subtle about it!  But we see too much of that on TV and I didn’t want to write about it, I wanted to write about joy and hope and prosperity. And then I wondered what I was smoking! Honey, life ain’t great at this particular moment!

I keep saying that I’m not suffering. And I’m not. I have my computer, books, TV, my food is delivered, everything is delivered. And yet I think I’m suffering more than I think I am. I’m relatively stable, psychologically speaking,  and yet who can say that with any authority except perhaps a doctor. And even that is sometimes questionable.  Sorry. What I am is unsettled.

I watch TV and yet I spend half of my time doing other things not paying attention. I have projects I want to finish but I just don’t have the initiative . I know what needs to be done and I am quite capable of it and yet I don’t do it. I have three books in a queue that I need to go through before I send them to the printer. A couple of weeks work at the most. I haven’t looked at them in two.

I’m not seriously anxious or afraid. I feel safe in the town I’m in but I don’t leave my apartment. When the weather was warmer, I would go out on my balcony. It’s too flipping cold now! I want to empty my apartment and reconfigure it with all new furniture. Don’t worry, that is not going to happen! The cost and inconvenience are insurmountable. So, I sat down at my computer and I designed a one-bedroom condo. It’s not a place that will ever be built but I rather like it. And it amused me for several hours. That seems to be my goal these days: amusement. That is a sad state of affairs. (I also designed a two-bedroom condo and a cottage with three bedrooms.)

I Zoom with friends and use FaceTime and Skype. I have Personal Support Workers that come in every day to help. Suitably masked and gloved but people nonetheless. I have a beautiful view of the Sky and a strip of the downtown. I’m warm and dry. I have nothing to complain about. There are people in the world that are truly suffering with circumstances and disease.

In Canada we have helplines to call if people are feeling overwhelmed. They are free and there are real people to talk to, to connect with. Sometimes it’s easier to tell a stranger then a friend. A study came out recently that said women are more psychologically affected by Covid then are men. I wonder if that’s true or maybe women are just more willing to talk about it. People are suffering in ways I cannot begin to imagine and all we can do is wait.  I can help through charities but that’s not enough. I will continue to help in whatever small way I can but I look forward desperately to some form of normalcy in the coming future. Did I mention that I am impatient? Maybe I’ll go design another building …

 

 

Whew!

I spent over an hour this morning posting a week’s worth of well, posts.  It usually takes fifteen minutes.  I have everything prepared in advance so all I have to do is plug things into the appropriate spots.  My picture is chosen for Wednesdays poem and I use the same icons for a year on my Daily and Shady Quips.

I knew the New Editor was here but the last time there was a change I was able to keep the old reliable Classic Editor.  I guess I got cocky.  And I got caught.  Why exactly did they make the decision to change?  The world is in an uproar.  People are getting sick and dying.  This is not a good time to change to something that is NOT user friendly.  I have a vision of tech savvy 20somethings sitting around a huge empty desk (social distancing of course) chewing wads of gum and diddling their phone.

One says “Like, I’m so bored!”  But it is in emoji speak so no actual sound emanates from his emaciated body.  (Computer nerds) And the next person responds with a stream of emojies that would impress World War II Code Breakers. The result of this fictitious exchange:  The New Editor.  It takes 4 times as long to do anything with 3 times as many steps.  Aggravation levels peak and irritation is at an all time high.

Perhaps they believe it is making our lives better.  It is not.

I have been shown how to get back to the old Classic.  I hope it continues to work.

Go to All Posts and then choose Classic Editor from the drop down menu at the top of ADD NEW?

 

Seeing

I was sitting on my balcony recently, causally glancing over the buildings in the near distance and I saw something I had never seen.  Now I have lived in this town, in this apartment building, in this apartment, for more than twenty-five years.  I have been venturing out on to this balcony literally hundreds of times. And I never saw it before?  It wasn’t the fact that it had been there decades longer than I have, it was that I hadn’t noticed it.

Our eyes may look but it is our brain that sees.  How many times have you walked into a room, looked around and missed seeing the person you were there to meet? They were standing in plain sight but you missed them.  How many times have you bumped into something or someone right in front of you?  Your eyes were open but your brain was distracted.

I was walking in a mall one day many years ago when I was startled by an old friend, just inches from my face.  He said that he had been waving and while I was looking at him, he realized I hadn’t seen him.  I hadn’t.  My mind, my brain was preoccupied.  So, while the saying ‘seeing is believing’ is catchy, I don’t believe it.

Four people see a traffic accident.  They will have four different accounts.  Ask any First Responder.  We all SEE things differently. Our eyes see and our brain interprets. And THAT is what we witness.

I look out over a pristine forest and I see great beauty in the flora and fauna. Someone who makes their living from cutting down those trees sees his children with food on the table and a roof over their heads. We are looking at the exact same thing and yet we ‘see’ something completely different. And therein lies the conundrum.

What is the truth? What is the truth to you?  There are some facts that are irrefutable and yet some people refuse to believe them. Why? Perhaps they are unable to handle the truth. And it is so difficult to sift through the masses of information and misinformation that we are bombarded with every day.  Sometimes it is easier to listen to whoever speaks the loudest.  Sad but true. What does that say about us as a people?  Mistakes have been made in the past that affected the entire world because the masses listened to the wrong voice. How can we ensure that doesn’t happen again?

Oh and what was it that I had not noticed?  It was the name of the building I was looking at in four-foot letters!