Pick a Lens, Any Lens

What lens am I looking through today?

Like so many other choices I have, when I shift between lenses, I get to view any particular subject/topic/decision in a variety of ways.

Simple, very benign example:

When I was growing up, my parents were adamant that women of a certain (but never specified) age should have short hair,  short nails and dress “appropriately”. I can’t tell you with certainty what lens they were looking through, but I’ve chosen a different lens: I choose to view wearing long hair as I get older not as a way to “stay young”, rather as a way to enjoy a sensual experience.

Historical time. Culture. Family. Religion. Politics. Psychological disposition. Personal temperament. Peer pressure (which, for some, is an influence never released). Education. Circumstance.

The incomplete list above is just a sampling of what guides the forming of the lens through which the world is viewed for each of us. That’s not to say that it’s the only lens through which we may view the world. This list may be the most influential, but that doesn’t mean we can’t switch lenses, like going to the ophthalmologist and telling him or her if the view is clearer through lens 1 or 2, 3 or 4, 5 or 6. (If you don’t need glasses or contacts, you may not be familiar with this experience, sorry!)

We view experience through our own personal lens every minute of every day, often without choosing the view. It’s our “opinion”, it’s “where we are”, it’s “how we feel” or it’s our “knee jerk reaction”. For myself I can tell you that the most difficult adjustment is the one around “where I am”. While I cannot change my lens to process what I have not yet experienced, if I’ve already been through the experience then I’ve got some wiggle room. I may not want the wiggle room or I may have to go through it again before I even realize I have the room to wiggle, adjust and see differently.

When I’m “caught up”, “emotional”, and in an emotionally charged moment I may not even consider adjusting my lens. First, I’m not really thinking wider than the moment. Second, I may really love the lens I’m looking through so why would I want to change it? Third, I may feel threatened and not willing to let down my guard to see more until I feel safe again. Fourth, when I am in pain, my pain serves as a very effective 30 foot tall, 10 foot thick solid concrete obstacle against any willingness to a new view.

Depression also has a tendency to limit my perceived ability to see life with flexibility. Everything is dark, negative, won’t go my way, sucks and there’s nothing I can do to change it.

Fear is another highly efficient and complex deterrent to wide open view finding.

What am I afraid of? What am I really afraid of? Does a past experience come into play? Why am I afraid? How many layers do I need to peel away before I’m looking at a truth? Once I know my truth – is it a truth after all or am I investing energy into what are only my thoughts? Mental or Intellectual illusions?

For myself, I know that Looking through the same lens does not always give me the flexibility to See.

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