When we were sitting in the hospital room in the quiet calm during the wee hours of the morning exactly five weeks ago, Sister looked over her new little bundle at me and whispered, “I have to take care of me so I can take care of these little ones given to me.”
That stuck with me. Her words were full of wisdom. Reality might say that our parents lived full lives, leaving this world at ages 68 and 67, but our perception is that we lost them way too soon. Those are the thoughts that led to her whispered words in the dark of night and that led me to take my own health a little more seriously.
So it was that today I found myself sitting across the desk from a compassionate and very smart doctor. At one point he said, “Perception is related to 70% of health issues.”
I used to say it so often, in my previous life, that it didn’t matter what reality was, I had to deal with what my perceptions were. And that’s all we can ever really deal with, isn’t it? If someone perceives that another has been dishonest with her, it doesn’t matter whether or not that is truth–the perception is what triggers behavior and response. Same thing with the perception of loss. And every other perception out there. If someone perceives others are out to get them or that they have no friends, no amount of truth or trying to prove that they are wrong is going to change it. If she thinks the world is a sad place, it doesn’t matter if the sun is shining and rainbows and unicorns are at every corner. Perception is the new reality.
And it can hurt you. It can weigh you down. Through stress, anxiety, sadness, and so many other ways.
We need to give each other and ourselves grace when it comes to perception and reality. It may appear to make no sense looking from the outside in–someone else’s perception, but when we are walking it, the fear and worry that comes from our perceptions can be crippling at times. Though it makes no sense in reality, we’re no longer in Kansas, Toto. We are in the world created by our perceptions. It just is what it is.
And that’s pretty much it. Tonight I am thankful for doctors who listen and care and don’t call my own or anyone else’s perception of reality crazy or off or wrong. I am thankful for friends and Aunts and family who listen to my perception-skewed views and understand and love. Exactly that. Love.
I’ve met so many folks whose realities are very hard, and their perceptions only make their lives harder. If you know someone working through some hard times, please give them some love and grace. And a hug. Perception is a hard place to live sometimes. No matter what that ol’ Reality says.