Rethinking The Lenses Through Which We Navigate Our Lives
I picked up one of the few books I brought to Mexico, James Hollis’ book, The Middle Passage, and began to read it again. It didn’t take long before I found something to bring here, a quote that is posted on my blog site. However, this time I want to bring more of the original words surrounding the quote here with perhaps a few thoughts to add along the way:
“… whatever reality may be, it will to some extent be shaped by the lens through which we see it.”
These are the original words I borrowed. I chose them because of my using photography with a lens, images which caught my attention – my viewing lens – and the way that I saw or understood the world around me that I knew was influenced by Jungian psychology. I left it at that until I branched out to include a second blog site with the focus on naturism, photography, Buddhism and depth psychology – a blend of understandings of the world. Now, as I read further I find these words:
“When we are born we are handed multiple lenses: genetic inheritance, gender, a specific culture and the variables of our family environment, all of which constitute our sense of reality. Looking back later, we have to admit that we have perhaps lived less from our true nature than from the vision of reality ordained by the lenses we used.”
This makes sense to me, especially how our lenses are conditioned by the world outside of ourselves rather than allowing a deeper resonance to emerge. I know in my case I have pushed back and denied almost everything that didn’t fit within outer experience. I didn’t trust the unknown inner lens that would have me question what I was doing, what I was assuming as truth. For the most part, I’m still wishy-washy and quickly cave in to the collective lenses of family, society, culture and outer authority. I do so because of fear – fear of finding myself alone, rejected as though whatever I am was simply defective and problematical in terms of how others viewed me through their lenses. Can almost everyone else’s lenses be wrong? Or, is it more likely that I have the warped lens that distorts reality? At the moment, I have to admit that I am not very confident in myself.
The problem all comes down to relationships. How do the significant people in my life see me, in any of our lives see us? I know that for the most part, they love me as a person, but struggle at times at how I express myself as a person. If only I didn’t include naturism as part of my view of myself, then perhaps it would be better for them, making it easier for them to be with me and talk with me. Are my lenses defective?
“Perhaps the first step in making the Middle Passage meaningful is to acknowledge the partiality of the lens we were given by family and culture, and through which we have made our choices and suffered their consequences.”
Another thing to rethink. Has my choice of naturism resulted in increased suffering because of how it strains relationships with others, and as a result has it also served to increase my suffering? Perhaps I have been delusional in thinking that naturism has served as part of my healing. So much of me – my lenses – tells me that naturism has been critical for my healing, but I am becoming aware that my lenses are limited. Can I trust my lenses? Can I trust the resonances that tell me either yes or no to the steps I take going forward into my life? Perhaps my history has resulted in so much breakage that I am the last one to be able to judge. If this is the case, then I am best left to giving up authority and living through the lenses of those I trust and love.
“The lens we received generated a conditional life, which represents not who we are but how but how we were conditioned to see life and make choices.”
Having read again what I have written here and the words Hollis has written, I come to understand that there isn’t anyone out there with their own lenses so finely tuned as to be able to offer the right way forward. All of us are broken in our own way, all of us view through lenses that are based on our own histories and experiences. There isn’t anyone to whom I can give up my authority. This last point leads me to my original intention with this post, to comment about authority.
It seems that in our modern world we are grasping for answers, too easily giving up our own lens, our authority. We give that authority to our bosses, to our churches, to our politicians, to our spouses, to our children, to instant experts and gurus. If things fall apart afterwards, we can then lay blame on these holders of our authority – they are at fault, not us who have given up.