A Perceptive Mind

A Perceptive Mind

By: Erin Rose Hennessy

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”
C.S. Lewis

I’m just getting off the sick list, being laid up most of the past weekend with a cold. I really wanted to do a blog post tonight, so I was trying to think of a topic I could touch on without having to be REALLY deep and profound, because who can do that after their first day back at work after the fever has been baking your brain half the previous weekend?

I was at work today – I work in a childcare center. There are a LOT of things I can say about working in childcare, and I probably will in future posts, but tonight is just a simple observation.

There’s a little boy in my class, 15 months old. He’s at the age where the toddler is becoming aware of themselves, their surroundings, and the rules of their home, their classroom, and the world. He has his usual chair at the table in our eating area (we literally call it “the dining room”, although calling it that is a bit of a stretch). Usually when he enters the dining room, he comes at it from the playroom, so his chair is on the opposite side of the door from which he enters. He goes to that chair, every day, so it’s apparent he knows where it is.

Well, today, we let them have snack right after they left the “crib room”, which meant 15 Month Old’s chair was right in front of him as he entered. Not at the opposite end. He tried to go around the table to sit in his friend’s chair, which he thought was his own. When Co-Teacher gently guided him to his chair, he reacted in his typical, confused toddler way – he protested. He was sure, absolutely sure, that we had put him in the wrong chair! We thought he was his friend! We were about to give him the wrong—-oh! Phew. He still got his own cup and his own plate for snack. The correct cup and plate. Thank goodness. All was much better in Toddler Land!

From a toddler’s perception, we had changed the rules of his world. The world changes every day for all of us. Most adults are so busy rushing around, being busy, going from work to school to classes to the grocery store to the library – wherever we need to go.

Stopping and paying attention to the little things – noticing the changes in our world – is something I’ve been trying to do more of lately. Noticing why my little students react certain ways. Notice slight changes in their facial expression. Notice when one of them is wearing really cute bunny rabbit socks so we all read a bunny book before lunch and wriggle our noses like rabbits.

I associate perception with mindfulness – the practice of becoming in the moment. Just be. Just be you in the moment and nothing else (currently) matters. Right now, I am sitting in a chair. It’s a hard, wooden chair but the seat is a soft woven wicker that sags a little when I sit. My legs are both up, because I refuse 99% of the time, to place them flat on the floor. I just ate a delicious dairy-free brownie and chased it down with some almond milk. My cat is asleep on the sofa across from me. He’s wrapped in a ball, and I affectionately call him “Mr. Pile of Fur” when he sleeps like that.

One reason I love my work with babies and toddlers, is because they are all perpetually living in the moment. What matters to them is what is happening rightnowthisinstant. The past is forgotten. Later doesn’t matter. Right now, they are.

Perception is different from perspective – perspective is a view. Perspective is an opinion. Perception IS. It’s something that’s actually there, if you take the time to notice it. Perception also varies from person to person. Different people view the same thing a number of ways. That’s why the police can interview 15 different witnesses and they give 15 different versions of events. Every individual, with an individual brain, sees, hears, tastes, and feels differently.

Remember that meme that went around last year with that dress? Half of us swore the dress was blue and the other half said it was black? I’m still not even sure what the end result or the actual color of said dress was, but whomever created the meme made their point. Everyone is going to see what they see. You can’t change what other people see, because you aren’t them, and they aren’t you.

Keeping in mind the idea of perception, it ties into one of my goals for 2017 – to become more mindful and more content to just be me. Not to say that I don’t have ideas, big ones, about who I want to be and where I want to go, but I’m also realizing there is nothing wrong with being me right NOW. It’s about changing my perception and focusing on what’s here and now.

What are your thoughts on perception? Do you find yourself stopping to notice things? Do you find your perception to be the same or differ from others?

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