On my morning walk, I’m greeted by dogs protecting their property, dogs wanting to be petted, dogs out for a run. One house that I pass has a very quiet boxer who loves a little scratching, and a chocolate lab who barks incessently. This morning, I saw a third dog. He was fat and low-slung, and the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen.
As I walked toward the fence, the boxer and the ugly dog wrestled briefly, but the chocolate lab never stopped barking. As I got closer, I noticed the ugly dog was partially bald. A really ugly dog.
And suddenly my perspective shifted and I saw, not an ugly dog, but a handsome pig. The third dog was not dog, it was either a very large pot-bellied pig, or a small regular pig. It was no longer ugly, it was no longer bald. It had bristles like a pig.
When we look at things, people, landscapes, we see what we think we see. Two dogs one day meant the other animal had to also be a dog. I drew all my conclusions from that thought. And I was wrong. Once I could see the pig for what it was, I was ready to shift persepectives and judgment.
* * *
We have a tree in the back yard. It’s about 10 feet tall, and I have no idea what it is. I was waiting for it to bloom, to give me a hint. I was walking past it yesterday, when I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, what I took to be a wasp nest. My heart fell. I’m allergic to wasps, and just
yesterday, when I was repotting an orchid, a wasp had been persistently hanging around me. Now here was a big nest.
I was about five feet past the tree when I stopped. The wasp nest was not shaped like a real wasp nest. It was round. And too light-colored. I backed up and there, in the tree, hung a single grapefruit, pale yellow like a full moon.
Yesterday’s wasp’s nest was today’s grapefruit. Because I didn’t know what the tree was, I didn’t recognize the fruit, which usually grows in clusters. Although I’ve seen a number of grapefruit trees in the area, I’ve never seen a lone grapefruit on the tree.
Both stories illustrate the same idea–we see what we expect to see. We make terrible eyewitnesses to life. But another perspective gives the scene an entirely new meaning, a new way of understanding. Interesting thought, isn’t it?
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. She teaches communications and personal journaling.