|Eye Sea U|
It seems most of us who can see, tend to do so only with the two orbs in our head. But there’s more to seeing than what our brain receives through eyeballs.
I’ll never forget meeting world famous performer and Grammy Award-winning singer, producer songwriter Stevie Wonder. What happened many years ago during that celebrity encounter was a first big step toward my developing a clearer understanding of myself… and how I see others.
It was at a Hollywood party and I was introduced to Stevie by a mutual friend. After our hellos, he invited me to sit with him. After settling in at the table and meeting the others with him, he extended his hands in my direction and asked me to take them.
His request wasn’t so much startling as it was unexpected. After a beat I did as he asked, figuring it was his unsighted way of initiating a handshake. But his request was more than a greeting. So much more.
|Stevie Wonder: he sees beyond sight.|
I placed my hands in his and gripped firmly, using the same steady pressure I apply when shaking any person’s hand. Instead of responding in kind, he started talking. It was the normal getting-to-know-you stuff, except for two things: one, Stevie Wonder was asking the questions; two, we were holding hands.
There I was, literally embracing a legend. And a stranger at that. After several minutes of conversation he gently released his hold.
“Why’d you do that?” I asked.
“I like to know who I’m talking to, and it helps me feel their energy.” He went on to add that he gets a wide-ranging sense of a person through this exercise. He was right.
Turns out our eyesight does a most effective job of interrupting our ability to see people for who they really are, rather than who we imagine them to be. This distorted view might be akin to self-fulfilling prophecy: we see what we want to see.
Big or small, sighted people are plagued with the amoral affliction of assessing the ability of a person based on how they look. We have each other to thank for that, and to a large extent, the media.
Tall or short, we ignorantly assess each other based on physical characteristics that are largely unrelated to how a person truly is. Instead, we rely on unhealthy social “conditioning,” which tells us to ignore what we know to be true in favor of what society insists is normal.
Light or dark, we sighted folk pound into each other warped group-think fallacies that the color of our skin holds significant insight into who we are dealing with.
Those with 20:20 vision, or even 20:200 like me, largely consider the so-called physical imperfections of others as somehow qualitative measurements of their character. And most of the time we are wrong, especially when we bump up against our admitted as well as unconscious prejudices. At least I know I am.
So I remain a work in progress, constantly fighting against self-deluding prejudgments of others based on how they look. This “vision sickness,” as I refer to it, robs me of rich and productive opportunities to get to know others. Many of us use this nonsense in place of common sense to mistakenly guide us to consistently wrong conclusions.
Keep all this in mind the next time you have the chance to shake someone’s hand.
Follow J.R. on Twitter @4humansbeing or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.