Recently I’ve come up against conflicting opinions regarding the relationship between reality and perception. The funny thing is up until a few months ago, I’d never ever stopped to consider the possibilities, but then a coworker commented that 97% of reality is perception. It intrigued me and I thought a bit about it – but not that much!
Then this past Saturday I stopped for some take-out food and as the owner went back to the kitchen to bag my order I noticed a piece of paper put up next to the swinging door, proclaiming that perception is not reality. I wanted to ask him what it meant but by the time he came back, I had forgotten. Oh, well.
This all fit in with a blog idea I’ve been tossing about for a while, even taking notes for, but never managing to get around to putting it into words. This is kind of funny because it’s all about words, and mis-perceptions that have brought a smile to my face when I realize I’ve read something too fast, or listened with half an ear and a quarter of a brain.
While listening to a food show on PBS, I heard
- “Use a nice dirty baking potato.”
- Everyone else heard ” a nice sturdy baking potato.”
On another PBS show, this one on travel, I heard the host lament
- the hunting of “an endangered wino”.
- Everyone else heard “endangered rhino.”
I guess I watch a lot of PBS shows. This time it was a gardening show. I heard
- “Let the seeds urinate.
- Everyone else was told to “Let the seeds germinate.
On a health and beauty segment of the news about weight loss. I heard
- surgery is often necessary to tighten up blue skin
- Other listeners hear it was loose skin that needed tightening up
And last but not least, on a health and beauty show, I was reminded how important it was to my health
- to get lots of wedgies
- A whole different reality than getting lots of veggies.
If you think I don’t listen well, wait until I tell you what I’ve read. But that will have to wait for another time, another place. For now, so long, it’s been real!
Did you ever look at reality and relativity? If it weren’t for two letters, the v and the second i, they’d be the same word.
Speaking of letters, when one arrived in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago it got me to thinking about reality and relativity. Actually it was a card, not a letter, and it was from my friend Connie
I first met Connie the year after I moved to San Jose – at a 10K race. It was the era when running was in its heyday. We began participating in races all over San Jose, joking that the only reason we raced was so we could go out to breakfast afterward. And you know what? The jury is still out on that.
Connie and I had other things in common besides a passion for running and a fondness of food. We were both East Coast ex-pats, she being from New Jersey. And here’s where relativity comes in. Connie was nine years older than me, but since she and her husband, Jerry had started their family very early, and my parents, fairly late, my youngest brother was only a year older than her oldest son, so in a way, I fell between the generations. Whenever I wasn’t journeying back to New York for the holidays, I had a standing invitation to spend them with her and her family. I used to say Connie adopted me.
The one holiday I never missed was Easter, and her Polish brunch, a somewhat raucous event with Easter Egg fights (rules available upon request), ham, kielbasa, potatoes, and bottomless glasses of champagne to wash it all down. When I saw how she signed the Easter card, I assumed she was referring to those days.
But then, this fell out
Early on in our friendship we’d driven up to San Francisco to run in a 10K on the beach. Yes on the beach, as in on the sand…… in clunky running shoes.
When I looked at the results page, I was taken back.
It wasn’t the hyphenated name I haven’t used in nearly twenty-five years.
Nor was it my time; 45 minutes was a little slower than my normal pace, but .. did I mention it was 10,000 meters ….. in the sand? Actually I was surprised I’d come in second in my age group. But that was it – the age group. looking back from the high peak of today, it seemed so young
That settled it, I had to call Connie. I checked my watch, something I always do when calling the west coast. She’s still out there, but now up in Washington. It was great to hear Jerry’s familiar singing of hello, “then the same old “Connie, it’s Ginny,” as if I were still just across town.
Connie knew me well. She was expecting my call, but was surprised when I admitted it had taken me a while to remember this particular race.
“You didn’t remember that old guy changing his clothes right in front of us?”
She was exaggerating. He changed out of his running shorts behind his car.I picked up the results sheet and turned the page, searching for his name “Here he is, Walt Stack. He finished nine seconds ahead of you.”
She laughed. “But I wasn’t last!” Connie always ran with the fear of being the last one to finish a race.
We were so young,” I moaned. “Do you realize my niece is the same age as I was then.”
Connie came right back at me with a more alarming reality check.
“Do you realize Lori is a year older than I was!”
Until that moment my mind had preserved Lori, her youngest daughter, in the whirling drama of high school. In a flash, reality set her free.
Having thoroughly depressed each other with the relative reality of our “happy” memory, we ended the conversation with promises to keep in touch.
I did leave out one relative point, though. That old guy? The one was nine seconds faster than Connie? The one with no inhibitions about changing out of his running shorts? Connie is now a year older than he was.
But I don’t think she’d have wanted to hear that, do you?