COLUMN: Seeing other people’s point of view challenging

It is a challenge to look beyond the preconceptions formed within one’s own mind.

It is a challenge to look beyond the preconceptions formed within one’s own mind.

It is a challenge to understand just what someone else is feeling.

However, the journey of trying to understand is part of the path of coming closer to someone else’s thoughts.

How does one look at the world from a different angle when all the shades of grey are being influenced by our upbringing? When all the shadows of the day are cast by the actions of yesterday?

Our dreams are hues that influence how our eyes see. Our childhood play is a wraith guiding the decisions that rule our spare time.

As a writer I think about how to look at a situation from outside my mind’s barriers every day. It is a challenge. I’m not sure if I have ever achieved it.

How does one shed every influence within their mind? How does one become nothing but a glass window to see clearly the view from the other side?

To empty the mind and fill it up again with nothing but darkness – to fill it with nothing but the echo of the voices of the outside world seems impossible. Yet, I strive every day to understand the person who stands beside me.

I try to understand their world view. I try to interpret what guides them through the hours of life.

What do they love? What do they hate? How do they feel? What do they believe in?

What does the man sitting alone with a battered hat cast out in front of him filled with coins think?

As the sidewalk in front of him fills with people coming in and out of shops does he silently cry when no one even looks at him?

Does he breathe in the air of utter disregard and isolation and cringe deep inside his soul?

Does he keep his dreams secured deep within his pockets because he is afraid to turn them out for the world to see?

Covered in the robes of sidewalk dust and concrete gloom he offers the world a smile, even though there is no roof above his head.

He offers a passerby a hello. One brief moment of contact among the crowd of patrons visiting local stores to buy one more thing.

What does the old woman who shuffles to the end of the drive to collect her morning paper worry about when she’s all alone in her home?

Does she have family nearby? Is she lonely? When the curtains close does her darkened cloister become a prison or a sanctuary from the bustle of the crowded street outside her home?

Does she have someone who offers her a kind word or who she can share her thoughts during a weekly phone conversation?

What does the woman who fills my inbox with hate really believe? What are the desires inside her that motivate her hand to press send? Are disagreements in opinion a reason for animosity?

Does her smugness hide her pain?

How does one disregard the hate – the loathing of a stranger? Does the misery of miscommunication and disagreement justify a person feeling obliged to kill your day with disgust and hatred sent to the nearest inbox? All the while others breathe ‘let it slide’ and move on.

I weave her loathing into a cloak of smiles and move on. Move on with the rest of the day with a laugh and a dream true compassion still lives deep within us all.

Move on and believe in the possibility of a future where the man on the sidewalk is given the dignity of acknowledgment by everyone who encounters him.

And a future where the old woman has someone who phones her every weekend for a friendly conversation.