We’ve all had times when we thought we saw something only to find out it was something completely different. The movies over the years have showed us countless examples of people lost or stuck in the desert thinking they see water, but once they approach the edge, it’s really not water after all. Whenever we drive to the cabin, once nightfall approaches, every mailbox looks like a deer on the side of the road.
Thinking back, I have countless examples of seeing something, making a lightning-quick assessment of it, labeling it as something and then realizing my assessment was far off the mark. I’ve never really thought about this phenomenon before, but as I was gazing out the window, a stone trash reciptical looked like it had a vine growing on it. As I was trying to figure out where the vine came from, if it grew up from a crack in the sidewalk or whether it was potted inside the vessel and flowing over the edge, I realized there was no vine; it was just a stone trash can. But my mind was able to create a whole story and assessment based on something I thought I saw. It was all a figment of my imagination.
How powerful this is to consider how much impact these figments have on our lives. We think someone is doing something for one reason or another, we feel attacked by someone’s words, we hear someone say our name, or we let our minds run crazy with stories that have nothing to do with anything. We wrongly accuse people for things we think we saw them do or not do. We end relationships and cause family rifts because of something we think we saw or heard. I could go on and on.
The point is, what impact do figments of our imaginations have on life? Are they harmful? Are they imaginative, creative and helpful? Or are they neutral and not matter at all?
I don’t know the answers. I just know that paying attention, learning to see things before judging them or assessing them and always being curious, we can learn to see when these figments occur and act accordingly (whatever that means).