Friday, February 11, 2011

Filling in blanks

The game is the same for everyone.
You're trying to analyze what you can see to get a sense of what you can't.

This was a line from a recent This American Life radio show titled "Contents Unknown." I listened to this on last weekend on my run. Although this specific line was in the segment discussing unpaid rent of storage units, I found it a very thought provoking, insightful comment related to people in general.

Whether it is a stranger, a friend, a family member, a relative, an aquaintance, a person whom you are dating, etc., we've all done this at one point or another. Sometimes, it's as basic as just wanting to know someone's story or what a person may be thinking. Other times, it's about wanting to know someone's struggles, their dreams, their hopes/aspirations, their likes, their dislikes. It's like wanting to be able to fill in the blanks.

When I think about this quote, two things come to mind--a specific woman and myself. There was a particular woman I used to see out running a year or so ago. She had a lopsided gait which looked like she might have had a stroke. Later, my mom did tell me that she was a "hemiplegic" likely from a trauma or stroke. (My mom used to work with spinal cord injuries a long time ago) For whatever reason, I was drawn to this woman. Maybe it was the perseverance factor she had to continue to run or maybe it just wanting to know her story.

I haven't seen the woman in awhile, so I don't know whether I will ever find out her story. I like to think she is well and taking a running break for now. Perhaps, one day I will find out.

Now with myself, this quote reminds me of how much pain I felt during my early ED years. What most people perceived on the outside was this put together, overachieving, likely to become a doctor person. Many thought of me as perfect. This is what I too wanted people to see. In that way, I was successful.

However, at the same time, I had wanted them to see more than that. Very few truly knew the anguish I felt about myself, my body, my self doubts, my life in general. I used to wonder what people would have thought of me if they knew how imperfect I was. Likely, they would have seen me as normal, but my teenage self didn't see me that way.

Perceptions are funny this way. They are hard to gauge, and can take awhile to determine the accuracy. As German philosopher Hans Margolius said:

Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.


Angela said...

I love that last quote! I rarely have a quiet mind, and I would agree that it affects my perception of the world. I want people to think I'm perfect, and I definitely put on a show. It gets tiring to keep up the facade of always being happy. Great post:)

Missy said...

You just can't ever judge a person by what we "see" and it is so intriguing!