If I met one of those genies who jumped out of the bottle and granted you three wishes I know for sure what my first wish would be. It's not what you think. I wouldn't wish for money, or even for a grand publishing deal. I would wish for the ability to see myself as others see me. To stand back and watch how others interact with me and see their reactions. I would wish for the ability to analyze myself from afar.
I was thinking about this because I was thinking of the concept of perception. How we all perceive situations and circumstances differently. How we all bring to the table a different set of values and reactions that impact how we see situations. And other people. At first I wanted to see how people saw me in the physical sense. That reverse mirror image. But than I was thinking it would be more important to see how others view us as people. How they see our character. That is far more important.
As writers we do this when we are developing a character. We get to build that "person" from the ground up. Mold them in to who we need them to be. We make them the villain or the hero, we can make our audience love them or hate them. It's our choice. But in reality we have the ability to mold ourselves also. We make ourselves appealing to other people. Or we can drive other people away from us. We do this subconsciously, or on purpose. But we do it none the less. But even if we think we are doing it all right, someone else can perceive us as wrong. That is the uniqueness of being human.
Perception is defined as immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition. Discernment. It's very objective. So for someone who second guesses themselves at every turn, others perception can be a real blow. I would ask that genie to show me how I looked when I discipline my kids, read at church, stand in front of a group, or even just walk down the street. It sounds very egotistical I know. But I just want to make sure I am being the best I can be. Because I know we all make mistakes.
Maybe the genie would tell me to let it go. Who cares what people think? As long as I am living to my potential and my values, I am living my life to the fullest.
Maybe the better wish would be to ask the genie to free me from the need to have total acceptance. The power to live to my potential for me. To not have to worry how every action is perceived. Because if we are living true to our values and our faith, the other person's perspective, their perception, is too objective. Perception is what allows us to take our own experience out of everything we encounter. Perception is what allows each and every person to take a different experience out of the books they read, the movies they watch, the trail they walk. Perception is part of what makes us unique. I have to remind myself of that. I guess I had to step back and take a look outside. Would it not be boring if we all saw the same colors in the sunrise, liked all the same things.
So in life, and writing, it's important to take a step back and look from the other perspective. See how others perceive you, what you write, how you act. But still stay true to yourself. Don't compromise yourself, or others. When I am true to myself I write better, I am a better person. I took that step this week. Without the genie. I did the right thing, someone perceived it as wrong. In order to be true to myself and my values, I had to point out, to them, how we were both at fault. Their perception was different, clouded by a different set of values. It freed me to walk away. My heart was lighter, my marriage stronger.
What would you ask the genie for?
(June 24th I am reviewing Bridges By, dk LeVick, and I can't wait to share the message and history of the book. It ties in nice to the perception and complexities of the changing world. )