Thursday, April 17, 2014

Perspective

per·spec·tive
n.
1. a technique of depicting volumes and spatial relationships on a flat surface.
2. a picture employing this technique, especially one in which it is prominent.
3. a visible scene, especially one extending to a distance; vista.
4. the state of existing in space before the eye.
5. the state of one's ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship.

Recently I've been thinking about how I see the world. Everyone, no matter how similar, has a completely different perspective than everyone else. I noticed that people do the oddest things, but to them it's just how they think they should act; it's their perspective on how things ought to be. How is it that someone can think something is weird or insane, while someone else thinks it is completely normal? I suppose a lot of it has to do with how we were raised, our cultural environments, and our moral compasses. Scientifically, we all see with the same kind of hardware, but we don't necessarily see the same thing the same way. This is the difference between stimulation and perception. Perspective, on the other hand, is somewhere in between the two, and can be more easily changed.

At this point, I could reference a YouTube video that was one of the things that got me thinking about perspective and inspired this post, but I'll just give a simple, yet slightly mind-blowing example instead (you can ask me about the video later, if you really want to jump down that rabbit hole). Have you ever wondered if your green is the same as my green? What if your green is my red, but we've both learned to call it green? I find this theory to be a bit shaky, but it illustrates my point. How can I tell you how I see the world if you already have your own perception? We try so hard to express or explain our view to others through conversations, disputes, stories, and art. We make connections here and there, but it is impossible to truly have someone else's perspective (at least on this world; if we could read minds, firstly, that would be awesome and secondly, it would be a completely different matter).

A friend of mine, who also writes a blog (albeit much more consistently and probably more articulately than I; if you're crazy enough to follow this blog, you should definitely go check his out), just wrote a post about music, dance, and the expression of art. It's beautifully written and a very nice tribute to music as an art form, but a certain line struck a sour note with me (pun most-definitely intended): "how can you truly appreciate a song that you have yet to dance to?" Sometimes I just need something to trigger a passive-aggressive outburst for me to write in my blog. So I thank you for that, Jared.

Just because I don't dance doesn't mean that I don't feel the music I listen to. I love music. Like A LOT. I listen to music any and every chance I get, and I love discovering new artists and sounds. But, as previously stated, I loath dancing.
I like dance in of itself; I think it truly is a beautiful way to express emotion and see a song through another lens, so to speak. But there are so many other lenses to see it through; so many other perspectives.
Mine is singing, I think. When I really feel a song, I sing it. When I have some pent up emotion, I find some song that matches my mood and let it all out. To me, that is how I appreciate a great song. I feel it, I make a deep connection with it, I make it my own, I sing it.
And when I can't sing a song, I listen to it and then really listen to it. I pick out and pick apart complex arrangements, relish in subtle variations in a riff, anticipate and analyze notes, and... sometimes still try to sing along. It gets very difficult with techno...
But dancing? No. To each their own, I suppose. But I don't think it should ever be said that dance is the only way to "truly appreciate a song".

I don't mean to rag on Jared at all; I do that enough in the real world, no need to do so over the Internet as well (you know I love yer face, Jared). But, while reading his post, I began to think about perspective again. I really can't relate to the urge to dance; I've never really felt it. I have the hardest time trying to understand what it's like to have that feeling. I will occasionally tap my foot or bob my head to a good beat, but I've never wanted to dance. It's one perspective I have yet to see through.

Side Note Time!  (*cheering*)
So Wiktionary says that the saying "to each his own" traces back to the Latin phrase suum cuique which is short for suum cuique pulchrum est which means to each his own is beautiful.
It can be frustrating to have to combat or try to understand so many different opinions, but it's also so wonderful! The world would be so boring if we all had the same perspective. Sure, there would be less or even no arguments or disputes, but there would also be no deep discussions, empathy, diversity, or variety in art. There may not even be art without the reason to express it.

You have to put something into art in order to get something out of it, when creating or even just viewing it. You have to be willing to set aside your world-view for a little bit and try to see the world through someone else's eyes. And a change in perspective can do even more for your life than it can for your view of art. A shift in perspective can cause a shift in attitude. And a shift in attitude can open your eyes to an entirely new perspective on life.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Empathy

em·puh·thee
n.
1. the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
2. the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself: By means of empathy, a great painting (video game, book, movie) becomes a mirror of the self.


So, I spend a lot of time on YouTube. Probably too much. I watch mostly educational stuff, though, so that makes up for it a bit, right? Right?...

Geekiness aside, I happened upon a certain video during one of my YouTube binges. It was about empathy and why we give it to fictional characters. It was from a gaming channel and so it relates to video game characters specifically, but I think it easily translates to other forms where stories are found in like books, movies, and - now that I think about it - just random strangers.

The video had a psychologist talk about why we care about people. He said there are three things that we find attractive in other people; attractive in general, not romantically attractive (although they definitely apply to that too).

The first is physical attraction. This is not just the 'sexiness' of other person, but how aesthetically pleasing they are. The second aspect is social attraction. This relates to how friendly the person/character is and how well they get along with others. The final aspect is what the psychologist referred to as 'task attractiveness'. This is how useful or skillful we think someone is.

I found these proposed aspects of attractiveness rather interesting. When I think about it, everyone in my life that I care about has one or more of these aspects. Many of them are just socially attractive, but most are a mix of two or all three.

It was said in the video that the ones that we find to have all three aspects are the people we care about the most. So story tellers tend to make the characters they want their audience to really connect with physically and socially attractive as well as skilled. Think about your favorite character from a book, TV show, video game, or movie. How many attributes do they have?

It's kinda interesting.

Although I think this a good generalization, I don't think there are only three aspects to attraction. I love people for so many reasons. I'm sure someone could manipulate whatever other attributes I came up with so that they fit nicely into one of the categories, but I feel three is just too small a number to quantify the awesomeness of people. There are so many more reasons to love someone than just three; two of those suggested reasons being rather shallow, at that.

I can't remember when, but I had a sort of epiphany one day when I was floating about in my teenage years. Each and every human here on Earth is going through the same thing; we decided to call this thing 'life'. Sometimes it's rough, some days really just suck, but we all chose to come here, learn, endure, and grow. And when you think about it, life really is the most amazing thing. It can be extremely hard to recognize and remember, but life is good. It can be incredibly hard sometimes, but it's supposed to be. All good things are difficult; that's what makes things worth something. I think my epiphany from yesteryear is best summed up by a quote I found not so long ago:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

I really love this quote. Sadly, I can't find a reliable source for who to accredit it to; some say Plato while others say Ian MacLauren. But, whoever said it knew what they were talking about.

That's it. The secret to loving life. Love everyone.
Just love the freakin' crap out of them.

And if you can't love them, at least try to see life from their perspective. Try empathy; try to visualize what their story is. Everyone that has a life has a story. If you can empathize with fictional characters on a page or a screen, then you better believe you can empathize with a real, fellow human being.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ambivalence

am·biv·a·lence
n.
1. The coexistence of opposing attitudes or feelings, such as love and hate, toward a person, object, or idea.
2. Uncertainty or indecisiveness as to which course to follow.


I am an introvert living in an extrovert world.
And I kinda like it.
But at the same time, I kinda hate it.

Society decided certain activities are fun. These activities usually involve a group of people. I totally get this. Doing things with people is one of the best ways to bond with them. But does there have to be so many people?
Sports, concerts, dances; there are hordes of people and it's so loud. Everyone is too busy running, screaming, or flailing about that I have a hard time understanding how people actually interact with other people. And yet somehow they do. Crazy extroverts.
I realize and wholeheartedly agree that most people are somewhere in between the two extremes of introverted and extroverted; myself included. But I would argue that people tend to lean toward one or the other, at least at a given moment in their life. People can and often do fluctuate between the two.

Anyway, extroverts tend to feel energized or 'recharge' by hanging out or talking with other people and feel at home in large groups. They are very outgoing, talkative, and decisive socialites ('social' being defined by an extroverted world; a larger portion of society is extroverted and, naturally, that group decided what 'social norms' are).
Introverts, on the other hand, tend to feel drained by most social interaction and need to recharge by spending time alone. They are quiet, analytical, and thoughtful listeners. Extroverts tend to have many acquaintances, while introverts tend to prefer a small group of close friends.
The reason I entitled this post 'ambivalence' is because it describes my feelings toward social interactions pretty well. I am, as you may have guessed, an introvert, but I really enjoy interacting with other people and I am quite talkative when I want to be.

Let's take a popular extroverted activity as an example: dancing. 
I recently went to a church dance that I was very exited for, for some reason. But then I remembered I can't dance. Seriously. I have tried to dance. I can't. I love music and I greatly enjoy a good beat, but something, whether it be physical or psychological, prevents me from expressing that passion through movement. It just feels awkward and weird to me. Despite the fact I dislike dancing, I was still able to have a great time at this dance, probably because I really like watching other people and the general vibe of people having a good time. I also enjoy watching people dance; the passion, confidence, expression, and abandon are things I envy slightly.
That's something I want to work on. Not dancing; I don't think I will ever feel completely comfortable with that. But abandon. I just want to figure out how to express myself. I usually keep to myself and figure things out alone; I 'swallow and digest' problems, I guess you could say. But when I want to talk or just say something, people around me know I will listen but they forget I can talk. I'm sure that's not the only reason I have a hard time talking about myself or expressing my thoughts, but it's hard to get better at something when you can't practice.

Dang.
That got all depressing pretty quick. Anywho! I really am getting better at it; time and experiences are making sure of that. And if you feel like you want to help introverts like me, just know we take a while to form our thoughts and gather words so you have to be patient. Silence isn't bad, it's just an opportunity.

But back to ambivalence.
I really want to be more social, but I can only take so much interaction. Do I force my introverted self to do more things outside of my comfort-zone just because it's expected of me by a society of extroverts? Or can I just stay in my comfortable little bubble? Or is there a balance where I can grow and expand my confidence and interests at my own pace? Luckily there is a necessity of opposites, of balance. Extravert and introvert, talking and listening, impulse and analysis, yin and yang. I can be both, and something entirely different.

I can be me.

 I just need stop getting lost in the tangles of predetermined routes and expectations, and find my own path to where I want to be.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

So...

I'm coming to realize I'm a rather closed off person.

This didn't come as much of a surprise to me, but it's something I would like to change a bit, or at least try to get better at not being. Yeah, that's proper English.

I think my problem is that I either talk to much or not at all. Or, sometimes, too much about things that don't matter or mean much at all. I was very taciturn in high school and such, but I became more talkative once I realized most people are as scare of you as you are of them. I still prefer to be the quiet type though; to listen, observe, think, and add my two cents here and there. I guess you could say I'm a bit of a penny-pincher when it comes to conversations. But it's because words are valuable to me.

I'm fine with small talk among peers and acquaintances, but when I'm with a good friend or two, ones that I can trust, nearly all those formalities go out the window. I still put a great value on my words, but I'm not so worried about them so I don't meticulously craft each sentence. I just talk, they talk back, we banter and have a good time. I honestly love to talk, but sometimes, that is my undoing.

The traits I would like to develop are that of a more open individual who is less inclined to talk about everything except what matters, and hopefully this blog will help with that. I have this terrible habit of avoiding serious conversations when they should be addressed. I think I enjoy my fun conversations too much and don't want to disrupt the cheerful mood. I think problems through on my own - probably too much - but then I don't feel like I need to talk them out with whomever they relate to. I know. It's really silly. I just bottle things up and digest them. It works for me, but I'm sure it doesn't help the other persons involved.

I think the key is trust. For some reason, my trust is hard to earn. I have no idea why; I have no reason to have any trust issues or the like. It just takes a long time or some grand gesture of (not necessarily romantic) sorts for me to trust someone. It's probably an introvert thing I've carried over with me from high school; I have few close friends, but their quality makes up for the small quantity.

It's either trust or general comfortableness (ha, spellcheck totally says that is a word; ironically, it says 'spellcheck' is not a word). There are a certain lucky few - well, lucky is one word for it - whose personalities I just click with. I don't know why I get along better with some people more than others, but it usually doesn't take long for me to feel comfortable enough around them to be myself.

So. Here's my blip of a blog. I'm mostly just going to try to be more open and just talk on here. Apparently I'm giving you, reader, some trust. Or maybe I'm just comfortable writing to some invisible audience. Or maybe just myself.

Maybe just for myself.


Anyway, writing really helps me think things through, or at least just vent frustration, so I've decided to release my ramblings to the public. Maybe some of you will be able to relate, or will at least be entertained. I've had blogs before as a sort of creative outlet, and I'm assuming this one will, one way or another, turn into that sort of thing. But I'll try to keep it full of thoughts, opinions, and babbling; as a good blog should be.

So buckle up, buttercup. 
It's going to be an interesting ride.

But I would be delighted if you'd join me.