Considering #Perception

Yesterday I posted a photo to Instagram. The last streetlights still shone as the sun rose behind the maple trees in Durham, New Hampshire. The sunrise sparked upwards, yellow and orange, splattering red out and up, and fading to gentle pink and blue. It occurred to me, even as I enjoyed a stunning sunrise unlike any I’d seen before, that our neighbors out west might perceive this fiery display as something to fear.

I suppose I’ve always been fascinated by how the same situation, event, video, or person can be perceived so differently depending on each person’s past experience. For example, there is a video playing on our local university’s home page. In it, smoke fills the air. People are screaming. The first time I saw the video, I watched horrified, wondering what terrible event had occurred over the weekend. With the second viewing I realized that it wasn’t smoke and screaming I was viewing. It was chalk dust and laughter as fans celebrated a football game kick-off.


But was my initial perception that far off? I asked several co-workers, all who say that they were at the football game that day and it was so much fun. Or they said, “Obviously, it’s a football game.” I’ve yet to find anybody who had the visceral reaction to this video that I had. Yet, look at war photos from overseas. Remember September 11, 2001.

The football game video still plays. I still avert my eyes.

Thirty some-odd years ago, I married. While planning our wedding Mass, my mother and I were discussing the final blessing. I had selected The Blessing of Aaron (Numbers 6:24-26). I wanted it sung using the same composition I had learned in my high school’s Glee Club.  That rendition is similar to the one below, performed by the Homewood-Flossmoor High School’s Viking Choir.

~sigh~   ~so beautiful~

Mom wasn’t enamored with my choice. “You do know that Aaron was being blessed before he went to war,” she said. “Do you really think that it’s an appropriate blessing for a wedding?”

Now forget for a moment whether her interpretation of the passage is correct. It is what she believed. She perceived the blessing would invoke conflict.

I remember pondering her words. It saddened me to think the blessing’s peaceful lyrics were a battle-cry.  Then it occurred to me, perhaps it was the perfect blessing for a marriage. My husband-to-be and I would commit “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health.” We’d have each other’s backs. We’d stand side-by-side. In gratitude we’d accept all that the world offered and mourn all it would take away.

For me, The Blessing of Aaron wasn’t preparing us for marital conflict. Rather it blessed us as we joined forces, binding our lives together.

Powerful perception. Use with care.


About Barbara Rath

Enjoy reading, writing, hiking, hangin' with family, friends and my dogs, watching soccer (Go Breakers), baseball, football. Favorite foods are coffee, chocolate, and artichokes. Always thinking of new stuff to do and then not doing it.
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3 Responses to Considering #Perception

  1. Good day. Just wanted to let you know that I like your blog.
    Would you like to share your story on “What You Blog About”
    what motivated you to start this blog ?

    • Barbara Rath says:

      Thank you for this kind opportunity! A long time ago when I first started writing regular posts, I wrote one called “Courage to Write”. I wonder, if I provide brief answers to your questions, if you might consider reblogging that post? Here’s what I would say as a lead-in to the reblog:

      I’ve always wanted to write, but told myself I was too busy. Really though, I was afraid to share my stories publicly. In 2013, at the Massachusetts Conference for Women, I confronted that fear. I came home determined to write two blog post per week for 52 weeks. My hope was that by finding my courage to write I’d find my voice and follow what had been my lifelong dream. Now, five years later, several of my short stories have been published, and I’m revising my first novel. Perhaps someday that will be published too!

      Here is my post about how I battled back my fears with this post about finding the Courage to Write.

      REBLOG LINK: link:

      If this is acceptable to you, please let me know if you need anything more. Thank you again! – Barbara

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