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Wednesday, November 15, 2006Perceptions
It’s fascinating how a group of people can look at the same exact thing and come away with different perceptions….
The other day my mom asked my dad to pick something up from the store for her but she couldn’t remember the name of the product. So she told him, “It’s in a pyramid shaped box.” My dad thought he had located the product and called mom, “honey is it a box that’s shaped like a sandwich bag?” She stopped to think for a minute “No babe it’s a pyramid shaped box” “Well all I see here is a sandwich bag shaped box.” She thought about it again and asked, “Does it have a Caribbean color scheme to it?” “Well yeah it’s kind of colorful but it’s not pyramid shaped.” “Freak it bring it on home. It sounds like we’re talking about the same thing.” When dad got home he placed the box on the table in front of my mom, “Is this what you wanted?” “Yeah that’s it! The pyramid shaped box!” “Sandwich bag!” he called out as he headed out the door.
My mom looked at the box for a few seconds and then said, “You know I can see what he means about it looking like a sandwich bag, it looks like one of those brown paper bags we used to carry our lunch in when we were kids.” I looked at the box, “It looks like a house to me.” My mom looked at the box again and said, "Damn I can see that too...it's amazing how something so simple as a box can be so many different things.It's all how one perceives it." She then began a discussion with me on how that moment pertained to life in general. She’s done that all of my life taken small every day moments and turned them into philosophical discussions and life lessons. It’s very important to her that her kids look at things from all different angles and keep an open mind not just accept or fall into one rigid way of thinking or has she likes to put it, “one kid's peanut butter and jelly is another man’s gourmet meal.”
The lesson on personal perception sprang to life during one of my counseling classes. We were watching a videotape on different therapy styles and the way therapists interacted with their patients. When the tape was done we had a discussion on our perception of the therapist. The professor an African- American woman found the male African-American therapist’s style to be seductive. She spoke about his body language his slow deliberate movements the way he sat his eye contact with the patient and his low reassuring voice. The students agreed with her but I’m not too sure if they really did agree with her or were just being “yes” men. I didn’t see that and said so. I saw the therapist as being nonchalant in an attempt to make his patient comfortable. Like. “You know it’s not a big deal that you’re here. Don’t stress it, people come to therapy every day. We’re just two people having a conversation. ” type of thing.
Then this Indian girl spoke up she didn’t agree with the professor or with me. She had her own spin on things. She said that the therapist looked as if he wanted to rape the patient. Rape the patient? WTF?! Did we watch the same video? I didn’t see that. No one saw that. The girl tried to explain her point of view. The second the words left her mouth you could hear the sound of people turning in their seats to look at her. The professor looked shocked and angry. Several African American girls in the class yelled out, “WHAT?!!oh hell no!” I covered my hands with my face….”Oh shit this girl is not going to make it out of here alive. ” I don’t know how she came to the conclusion that the therapist wanted to rape his patient but I’m pretty sure her perception was tinged with a bit of racism but then again that’s just my own perception of it.
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