“Look mamma—a V,” says Tara at age two, loving to demonstrate her letter recognizing ability.
“Where, I don’t see it,” I ask peering down Colfax Ave, looking at all the signs, the billboards.
“Right in front of us; see it?” I scan the skyline as Tara continues to point, trying to explain. “It’s at the end of the street—there.” I know she sees something, but I’m tempted to decide she’s mistaken as to what she spies because—after all—she’s only two and just learning her letters and daily toddler-hood excitement can sometimes be taxing. But her happy insistent tone makes me keep looking. And then, I get it.
The V that never leaves, that’s right in front of us, at the end of the street. It’s the actual horizon line, not the written letter V that I’d imagined.
We all have different perspectives as to what and how we view. Each is neither true or untrue for a variety of reasons too lengthy to get into here. But the greater truth is that one vision doesn’t negate another, though it could transform it. If we gave it a chance to do so.
The famous Jain parable: six blind men are asked to deduce what an elephant looks like. Each touches a different section from trunk to tail. The elephant is like a rope says the man feeling the tail. The one stroking the ears knows elephants are like large hand-fans while the man pricked by the ivory tusk: the animal is spear-like. Each knows what they felt so they’re sure the others are wrong. Of course they’re all correct…in part.
If we decide someone is: foolish, not an expert, is an expert, just a child, just an animal, senile, too emotional, PMS-ing, a dumb jock, a know-it-all teenager, a gansta, a cracker, a hippie, a suit, a bleeding heart, an Asian, only a woman, a redneck, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, even if some part of those observations are true, we close our visionary eyes and cease to comprehend beyond the labels, the judgment. This is an annihilation of sorts as everyone becomes invisible beyond the part we “see.”
We have to realize there’s much we perceive, try hard to discern but can’t, don’t want to see so don’t, and through all this, the thing remains as it is.
The Buddhists suggest that misery comes from not accepting what is. “What is” does not alter, but our perceptions do. Maybe it’s time we listen to another’s version to understand if it can expand our own.
Sunday-driving through California wine country, passing vineyards of perfectly pruned grapevines, Tara pipes up, “Hey mom-mia! The vines are holding hands. They must be singing.” Yup.