A Truer Picture

Perspective - AJ Dahiya

Suppose two people are on opposite ends of a vast and lush forest that stretches for many thousands of acres. One stands beside a rushing stream, watching the light play on the water. The other is in a heavily wooded thicket, so dense that very little light filters through at all.

If they were to describe the forest to each other, their accounts would be drastically different. They aren’t standing in the same place or having the same experience.

Perhaps they might argue about what the forest looks like.

Or, they could choose to listen to each other and grasp a bigger conception of the forest; one that accounts for the fullness beyond their own immediate horizon.

The moral of this little story: Our own lived experience matters. It is important, yet a worldview centered on this alone will necessarily result in a very limited understanding. You may be sitting beside the stream, but that doesn’t mean someone else isn’t standing in the thicket. The forest of humanity is limitless, the map of which is a tapestry of all of our collective unique experiences. The truth of another’s story in no way invalidates your own. In fact, the more perspectives we can hear with an open heart, the larger and truer our picture becomes.

Seek and ye shall find

Seek and ye shall find - AJ Dahiya

I have a dear friend who is a gifted biologist. Hiking with her, she always manages to notice a ring snake among the leaves, the curved tail of a salamander just below a river rock, or the fluttering wings of some reclusive bird species high up in the canopy. I imagine a great many people might hike the same path and notice none of these things. In fact, they might conclude that there isn’t much life within that stretch of forest at all.

So often in life, what we find is predetermined by what we are looking for.

On our own unique paths as individuals, how much beauty and wonder are we open to noticing? How alive is our inner forest, and how are we interpreting the experiences we have along the journey?

The stories we tell ourselves about our identities, communities, relationships, and worth can be self-fulfilling prophecies. If uninterrogated, these narratives create patterns in our lives through confirmation bias. And these narratives are not only dangerous, but often untrue. How many of our self-created villains, heroes, or detractors are actually just the shadow puppets of our own fears, justifications, or desire to belong?

I think of the famous quote by Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

I think the “power beyond measure” she is referring to is the power to write and rewrite our own stories, change our perspectives, and build a brighter reality. One of the many things that inspires me about The Pollination Project community of changemakers is that their awareness is trained on goodness and solution-seeking. The very act of applying for seed funding means that their personal narratives are expansive; the story they have created for their own lives includes belief in their unique ability to be a force for goodness in the world.

Focusing on light does not mean ignoring the dark. Amplifying goodness is not to assert that suffering does not exist, but is a choice to focus on what we are for rather than what we are against; to be moved by love, rather than fear.

If we find ourselves unable to see anything but darkness we can pause and ask the question — what am I seeking?

Whatever it is, you can be sure you’ll find it