There are many times when I’ve felt I know exactly what I’m looking at; then change the perspective or look again and find I’m looking at something else completely. When looking at this picture I know I was leaning over the rail of the bridge, looking at a creek, but I can hardly persuade myself that I wasn’t looking up at that tree with turning leaves. Both convictions give me a slight sense of vertigo, mostly from not really knowing what I know. This makes me wonder whether anything we perceive is “real.” Whether whatever is real or not may not matter if those in each of the many groups people belong to consent to whatever real may be for their groups’ identities. This may not match or mesh well with other groups, but then people, frequently the same people, often belong to groups that don’t mesh or match. I don’t believe it is possible for any one person exist in just one reality or group. Which makes me wonder why if people can get along with themselves it is so difficult for groups to get along together. A key to maintaining a balance between each of the many groups and all the realities is to acknowledge that others exist. The choice becomes to or to not judge others’ perceptions. To or to not perceive judgement. I would prefer neither, but to instead keep looking down into that sky and to enjoy that slight unsteadiness. How do you perceive your perceptions?
Mushrooms come in many shapes, sizes, and colors and live in many kinds of environments from under trees, the fields, to your basement. But somehow most people tend to think of mushrooms as though they all live in dank, dark, damp places and have a pungent, almost musty smell and slimy texture. Although this is stereotyping it really may not be all bad. With these stereotypical thoughts in the back of a person’s mind, stumbling across a beautiful red mushroom with white dots, in the park – we may not try to eat it. Which is a good thing since Amanita muscaria is poisonous. admittedly there are many mushrooms that are perfectly edible, but without specialized knowledge and study, it’s difficult to know which are and aren’t and make an informed decision. Better to be safe than sorry – as far as mushrooms are concerned.
There are times when stereotyping can be a negative thing as when, among humans, assumptions are made and beliefs held about an entire race or culture. Especially when those assumptions and beliefs go viral. Stereotypes should be developed by each individual (thus ridding the language of the need for the word) for use to ensure safety and comfort; they should not be used to revile, defame, and demoralize others. Though I see nothing wrong with warning children not to talk with strangers. It is helpful for individuals who are developing their own individualized identifications and preferences to divide those preferences and identifiactions into discrete, defined groups.
So I say go ahead and stereotype everything – but make sure that you do not compromise your own beliefs in doing so. Discretion is ultimately the best tool to use when handling your own stereotyping behavior. Would you really want to see someone else’s stereotyping structure?
After the beginnings of a conversation with my brother while watching a Northern Shoveler duck, no the duck is not my brother’s totem, I began to think about diversity and how it’s been so emphasized that there are even classes, a whole industry devoted to how we can ‘celebrate’ and ’embrace’ the diversity of our heritages. It seems to me that within our larger groups there are smaller groups, then smaller, on down into the family. Every single one of us is different and holds different beliefs than any other person. Rather than paying someone to tell us what diversity is and that we should respect others, I believe we should start at home and emphasize tolerance rather than going out and cheering something or people we don’t know just for the sake of semantics and the illusion that we’re good people because we can look a person of a different race in the eye. Universal tolerance beginning in the smallest group, and learned well can enable anyone to avoid disturbing, berating, or murdering others. After all other species practice that among themselves – I’m not saying violence doesn’t occur in the wild, but looking at the family of man we’re much more consciously attuned to violence than peace. Don’t you think starting with tolerance might be the way to go?
Sometimes I just feel crossways with the world. I can’t get my point across or I drop everything in sight or I just don’t like anything. When I looked at this turtle, my Dad’s totem by the way, I realized that the turtle had just done exactly what he wanted to do. He got up on the log. No matter that he most likely wanted to get in line with it eventually, he had taken the first step and succeeded. So maybe being crossgrained or crossways isn’t as bad as it sometimes seems. Further, it could be the first step to a goal or to something that’s always been desired. After all it’s easier to cut a board across the grain than to rip it. Does being in line all the time strike you as interesting or goal oriented?
All along I’ve meant not to start with a question, but to end with one; and to invite more questions. But between the book (I Heard the Owl Call My Name) set in the waters of the Inside Passage between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada and the fact that the owl is my mom’s totem the question begged to asked first. I certainly don’t believe that hearing the owl call you means death – at least not physically – though at times I wonder if the calls portends the end of a part of one’s life. When looking at an owl, fairly close up, and in the wild I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are creatures primordial and magic. An owl has given me a gift by allowing a photograh. Their eyes and their watching and waiting silence have me convinced that if I could just climb aboard and latch on for the ride I would never fear in the dark again. And that I could be as deadly a predator. I’d also like to be the owl calling in the night and conjuring up the full moon and glassy, still water – this is the magic owl, and much more appealing to me. Their quietness and stillness makes owls seem wise. How often would silence have been the better road to wisdom for you?