Monday, July 14, 2014

Self Reflection

While discussing Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, animator Chuck Jones summed up the differences between the two characters as such: "Bugs is who we want to be; Daffy is who we really are."

I'm fascinated by the variations between how the world sees us and how we see ourselves. Sometimes the gap between these perceptions is not that wide. The internal perception is in sync with the outside view. What they see is what you're giving them. This can be admirable quality if the person in question is a relatively well adjusted human being. This person displays a level of confidence in themselves that is inspiring to others.  

Of course this can be a pain in the ass when the person is NOT a relatively well adjusted human being. Some of these people are perceived as assholes by the world around them and you know what? They know that! Part of their internal view of self is, "Yes, I am an asshole." They see no reason to change because they are being true to themselves, they're "keeping it real". Congratulations, you have an asshole for life.  

Others have a negative perception inside and out. Writer Donald Westlake had a character in his Dortmunder novels called Arnie Albright who was a fence for stolen goods. Arnie was a smelly, gross, unpleasant person that nobody wanted to talk to or be around. And if you were unclear on your view of Arnie, he would be glad to clarify it for you: "Yes, I know I'm a smelly, gross, unpleasant person that nobody wants to talk to or be around."  

Which didn't help matters any; such comments only wanted to make you want to be around him less. This did work to Arnie's advantage in that you were willing to accept whatever Arnie was willing to offer just so you didn't have to spend time around him haggling.  

It's hard to redeem such a person because the reality within and the reality outside are in line with each other. The world thinks I suck? Well, that's OK, I think I suck too. 

But one can argue that for good or ill, persons who perceive themselves the way the world perceives them are at an advantage. They have a true assessment of their strengths and weaknesses.  They are not prone to self deception.  

Then there are others for whom the gap between the real world view and the inside view is extensive. 

We may not be as good looking as we think we are or, conversely, we are not quite as ugly as we think we are. 

We may overestimate how much we really are a sinner or a saint while our actions to the rest of the world speak otherwise. 

We see ourselves as put upon, as victims while the world wonders what the fuss is all about from people who are blessed. Or those who see themselves as blessed when they seem to have so little.  

Sometimes the error in perception is from the outside. People don't always see correctly past our facades. We project confidence and joy while our insides are torn about doubt and sadness.  

But  you'll also encounter persons that others have pegged correctly but the persons themselves do not see the truth of themselves. Maybe they see themselves as doing good, of leading a just and righteous cause while their every action tells a different story. 

And once in a while, you'll meet a person who does not see a good person inside but others perceive as decent and kind. And it's the outside view that is correct. Sometime, somewhere, the inner well was poisoned, a ill considered word, a lack of understanding, love or affection. This person leads a good life, is a good person. And everyone can see that except for that person. 

Perception and reality are tricky things to navigate sometimes. Sometimes the two are in order, other times that are not aligned at all. But it is important to see both sides of that equation. Otherwise one side or the other may be trapped in delusion and the world may be missing out on a really great person.  Or maybe the one missing out on that really great person is you. 

Be good to one another. 

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You


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