Posts Tagged ‘perception’

the presence of art

February 8, 2011

Occasionally, a little nugget of words comes my way and strikes a little spark inside me. I read a lot, traveling roads paved with the sentences, ideas, discoveries, and conclusions of the world as seen through the eyes of others. Seeking to uncover my own undeniable truths, I sometimes find them in the most unlikely of places.

This morning I found a phrase about people turning their “lives into works of art.” I found it, of all places, in The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by Andre Comte-Sponville. Yes, there are spiritual atheists out there, self-selected and defined, but that is not what this blog is about.

This blog is about living life as a work of art. I am immediately enchanted with the idea. Even though the author of those words was using them to describe the lives of Nietzche and Oscar Wilde as miserable delusions, I cannot help but take that phrase to the next level and be the work of art, live as if I am a delicate sculpture or a carefully crafted oil painting or the twirl of a ballerina.

What if I can construct my thoughts as if they were already Pulitzer prize-winning stories? What if I can direct my limbs as if they were a choreographed Broadway score? What if I can take my voice and create a symphony that makes me come alive with joy?

Thoughts to words.

Words to actions.

While I am seeking truth through the perception of others, I often find my own truths within the arguments of my own perceptions. I am spending these moments looking at every person, every creature as a work of art. It was no accident that a particular group of cells came together at a specific moment in time and joined with the living soul energy that now occupies that body. It was a carefully orchestrated plan that had been on the drawing board for centuries.

And each one deserves my applause.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

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the presence of forgiveness

September 16, 2010

What is the color of forgiveness? How big is it? What scent does it carry? If forgiveness walked up to me and smacked me in the head, would I even recognize it?

In all my explorations of personal growth and desire to connect with divine grace and eternity, forgiveness has been an elusive concept defined for me through the perceptions of others.

This word and its watery definition has caused me all sorts of problems and been the root of justified abuse. The religion in which I was raised insisted that we forgive others for their transgression, but often people used it as a rationalization to cause further hurt; in their minds, they could do whatever they wanted because “God would forgive them.” I came to believe that forgiveness is nothing more than a cheap way out for people who don’t want to change or be held accountable for their behavior.

I don’t see any need to “forgive” someone of their human nature. I have hurt others out of my ignorance and stupidity, and have said I was sorry, made amends, and worked to not harm another. However, I know I continue to say or do things that, when viewed by another’s perception, are harmful to them or others. (Anytime I see a cheap, useless trinket that has a tag that reads “Made in Japan” or “Made in China” or “Made in Taiwan” I feel a twinge of remorse that someone has to make such things to be able to exist and I am actually torn between buying it so that person would continue to have a job or not buying it because it serves no purpose and simply perpetuates the problem.)

I would prefer to accept us for all our humanness. But I don’t forgive anyone who purposefully harms another with knowledge and intent — that, for me, is enabling them to continue that behavior. My forgiveness in those cases consists of removing my presence from theirs. I do not have to let those people back into my life. I love me too much.

Forgiveness means to let myself off the hook of being responsible for anybody else’s behavior. My eternal presence nudges me to “let it go, let the incident go, let go your feelings to blame yourself or to seek revenge. We’ve other things to move on to.”

But I come to find that I do not have an honest, working mechanism of forgiveness for myself. I don’t know what forgiveness sounds like, looks like, or feels like. I know what it does not feel like. I still walk through life with ancient strings tied to my emotions over incidents long past and feel the same sorrow, emptiness, hurt, and pain as if the incident had only occurred yesterday. I continue to hurt myself through my memories.

My eternal presence does not urge me to pray for anyone to change their energy to what I think it should be. People are entitled to have the energy they have chosen. What I am hearing from my presence is that I need to view life from another person’s perspective and know that I can never really, truly perceive their experience accurately. I can only glimpse a fragment of how I might be and act given that person’s circumstances and beliefs. That is full of guesswork and projection. From my limited human point of view, I must find the God struggling to become within them.

And then I will be able to see the God struggling to become in me.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Past presence tense

May 16, 2010

The me of yesterday is still very much present today. Memories creep up on me, rapping softly at the back of my mind, saying “this is not quite resolved.” I watch the old reruns of life past with an apprehension I cannot quite name. I just know that I am disturbed by my recall of the event and wonder what it has to do with my present today.

My friend, Laurie, writes about the ripple-effect of our actions. I am acutely aware of how my journey brought me to this moment. And I know there are thousands of moments that are yet to come full circle. I remember past events and I think: can I change the past? No, I can’t change the event.

But, I can change my perception of that event.

And, I can tell a different story around the meaning of that event.

Or, I can remove any meaning I have attached to that event.

My presence today has the advantage of distance. Today, I have the power to disengage reliving the event and simply observe it. I can remember the person I was during the event. I can notice my clenched jaw, my hands curling into fists, and the shallowness of my breathing. I can give my past self permission to breathe and relax while watching the memory. I can listen to the story I tell my past self about the event and suggest alternative stories . . . or no story at all. Changing any part of the story changes it meaning, but I have also noticed that meaning sometimes just evaporates.

By engaging the past with presence and awareness, I can address the present realizing I can make these same choices now about perception, stories, and meaning. In this way, I can be more in charge of my “ripple effect” and not get knocked out by the boomerang.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The perception of presence

April 16, 2010

Don’t take anything personally.

This is the second agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements.

And he doesn’t just mean anything . . . he means everything.

When a person let’s go of taking everything (or anything) personally, they essentially let go of our sometimes snarky nature of being judgmental towards ourselves and others. We are trained at a very early age to please others to get our needs met, to receive affirmation, to know that we are accepted and loved. When someone praised us, we felt good. We had done a good job. We could consider ourselves good.

But when we did something that another person considered “bad,” we would not receive praise, but rather be reprimanded, rewards would be withheld, and we felt bad. Some of us even considered ourselves as being bad.

The key, Ruiz says, is to realize that another person’s judgment of you or your actions as “good” or “bad” is all about them and their perceptions. None of it is about you. Perception is just as much a presence in you as it is in others. You and I also perceive and judge our world from our personal perspectives.

When someone does something we like and it makes us feel good, we compliment them. We would like for them to do more of those things that we approve of and make us feel good. When we do this we have just given power and control over our feelings to them. Ditto for feeling bad about what other people do and say.

Just for one day, be mindful of the presence of perception in yourself and others. Be aware of what you feel when another says or does anything. Watch that little judgmental angel rise to the occasion and begin to label another’s actions or words. Pay attention to how that judgment makes you feel. Then change your perception. Pretend you are someone else who might think what that person did or said was good. Watch your feelings change as you change your perception.

“ . . . for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Hamlet, William Shakespeare

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass