The Realization of Interpretation

[This journal entry was originally written on October 22nd, 1997. As always, Jay’s current thoughts on this entry are in the post script – Dawn]

Everything we think, everything we feel, everything we see, everything we say, everything we do; is all a product of interpretation. The life you are living, the thoughts you are thinking, the emotions you are feeling are all interpretations. The way we interpret the world becomes our world. The way we interpret others’ actions determines how we react. The key to finding Happiness is hidden in interpretation.

We learn ways of interpreting and dealing with the world, and that becomes our world. The world “out there” is completely different for you than it is for me, yet it is the same world. The world is divinely indifferent. Nothing dies, nothing is born, nothing ever happens that is good or bad. It simply is. What we see with our individual eyes is not in the least bit objective. It is before it hits our eyes, but we cannot look at it objectively. We see it through years of experience which has turned into the interpretation of the moment. Your whole life is packed into your every glance.

Post Script

This was a huge realization for me. It happened in stages, over time; and I suspect that I glossed over the concept a bit back in the day because I felt inadequate in what I saw looking out through my eyes. My world is a great deal different now than it was then; and I again feel gratitude to “Yesterday Jay” for thinking about interpretation critically enough that it became a handy tool that I now use with familiarity.

At first it would be school or work; some authority figure would announce a pop quiz or mandatory overtime, and I would groan as I thought I was expected to. Then I noticed not everyone was groaning. Why not? Maybe that person had a confident handle on the material or had been hoping for a few extra bucks in their pocket. The reason didn’t matter so much as the existence of a choice that did. That got me thinking.

The next logical step was seeing that I could make that choice, instead of letting circumstances seem to. Hidden within this was the obvious point that I had already been making a choice, albeit unconsciously… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It was interesting to see how a small shift in the way I was interpreting a situation could change the situation. It was more interesting to see that trying to positively interpret everything seemed to magnetize more positive things into my life. The question I inevitably had to ask myself was whether my life was already pretty good and maybe I was just a whiny little bitch.

Maybe the good stuff had been there all along, waiting for me to stop being so negative so it could be positive. I had become a skilled complainer, and had no problem finding some aspect of life to criticize. How delightful to find that I could use the same skill set to become appreciative. The last sentence of this entry stuck with me, and it was my mind’s mantra for a long time…

“Your whole life is packed into your every glance.” If it’s possible to stand behind that statement more now than when I first wrote it, I do. The amount of input that the human’s senses are assailed with in any given moment is tremendous. The amount of input that is actually perceived by the average human is so scant in comparison that it could nearly be referred to as negligible. Run that through the filters of experience and then give it a few minutes, running it through the inevitable filter of time. What have you got left? Not much at all, that’s what. What little remains is a subjective memory that is highly likely to have been altered while being perceived and is even more likely to be altered even further when the rememberer is asked to recount it. A scientific device may exist that can identify the triggering of that memory, but it couldn’t begin to recount the experience.

Vision is one of my favorite modes of perception. I use my eyes to read and write and drive and build things, the list goes on and on. At the same time, I am fully aware that I am incapable of seeing things as they are without a high-powered electron microscope. I discover that my eyes are lenses that bring dancing and whirling particles swimming in a sea of nothingness into focus in a way that makes them look like people and objects, and I am both disturbed and intrigued. Where did this system of perception come from? Why doesn’t it work the same for everyone? Does it work exactly the same for any two people? If so, how and why? If not, how not? Why not?

You can only spend so much time wondering if other people can visually perceive heat signatures and be jealous of them for it. It’s much more rewarding to cultivate a perspective that propels me in a direction that keeps me happy and healthy, to maintain a positive attitude without parroting too much pseudo science or painting a sticky sweet veneer of bullshit over everything. (That’s not to say I won’t buy your book if you come up with a learnable method to expand one’s visual spectrum.)

It was important for me to learn that time spent dwelling in meditation was a very effective method of dissolving old programs and discovering tools to install new ones. Too many issues are walls that break the strongest spirit when met head-on. Deliberately bringing a spiritual solution to a mental conundrum or emotional disturbance raises the perspective enough to see the wall as a stair to step on in passing. Outward vision is incredibly important to those of us that rely on it, but what we see when we look outward is determined in no small way by what we see when we look within.

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