One of my favorite things to think about (besides what life would be like if Velveeta Shells & Cheese were 10 calories per serving) is how every single individual has different perspectives and experiences. We may have shared beliefs, similar upbringings, and the same hobbies, but no one among us can ever fully understand any person’s life but his/her own. We live most of our lives alone, in the literal sense and in our heads. You walk or drive to work alone. You sit in your office alone. You daydream during class alone. You are reading this blog post alone. Even when other people are around, you are alone unless directly interacting. The only person who knows all of your intentions, thoughts, and actions is you. That is, if you don’t deceive yourself in order to avoid the reality of your shortcomings. Likewise, you don’t know the half of anyone else’s intentions, thoughts, and actions. No matter how much we try to see the world through someone else’s eyes or walk in someone else’s shoes, the only eyes we’ll ever have are our own, and the only feet we’ll ever have are the ones we were born with.
Although we might become more empathetic or tolerant when we imagine life or a specific situation from someone else’s point-of-view, we are doing nothing more than imagining. Perhaps we get some explanations from those who are close to us, but even their words can only paint a picture of what they see and feel…they can’t very well hand over their actual brains, nervous systems, and eyeballs. Maybe this is why humans feel so drawn towards God or a higher being…we want to feel assured that someone else knows exactly what it’s like to be “me.” But that’s a whole nother tangent.
The following are some of my favorite “my-life-is-different-from-yours” thinking points:
1. What if my concept of blue is actually your concept of orange? We can never prove that the colors we see are the same colors other people see. Heck, we might not even have the same color palate. Our spectrums could be made of colors completely foreign to anyone else.
2. When I’m sitting across from someone at a table, what they see behind me does not even exist in my world. We can be at the same table in the same restaurant, meanwhile experiencing two different worlds. The little girl reaching for her sippy cup at the table behind your date is not part of your date’s experience, but she is part of yours.
3. What would this room look like to someone who lives in India? Or Thailand? Or Cambodia? If I slept on the floor of a 6×10 stone room that I shared with four other people (like many homes I saw in India), how would I view a small New York studio?
4. All the crowds in the street or cars on the road…where are they going? Each of them has friends, family, drama, and lives that I know nothing about. They don’t even exist in my world, yet I could step on their heels or share with them a lane.
Maybe these kind of thoughts are “weird,” but I find them far more entertaining than absentmindedly listening to my iPod or watching T.V. And the truth is, you’ve probably had some pretty weird thoughts, too.