We all suffer from misperception at times. For some of us these are momentary lapses which can occasionally have real consequences. Others of us travel though whole stretches of life without having a clear picture of what we are seeing and what it may mean. And could there be anything for us to do in the situation? An opportunity?
Food for consideration…
The other day, a very sad incident in the news brought this thought to mind. A TSA employee jumped to his death from many stories up overlooking a hotel atrium.
In one of the various reports about this incident, a passerby who had seen the TSA officer near the ledge was interviewed. The passerby explained that he noticed the man, but “thought the TSA officer was just looking for something”. So he moved along without giving it any more thought. In a later comment the passerby said he would have tried to talk to the TSA officer if he had suspected that something was very wrong with the situation.
And wouldn’t that have been the case with many of us?
It is not being suggested that the observer was obligated to inquire what the TSA officer was up to. But could this man have been more aware in order to have possibly intervened? Particularly since he said that he would have wanted to help.
Could we all be more aware, more present to what is going on? Setting aside conscious decisions to not become involved in life events no matter what is going on, we often just miss the boat of all sorts of opportunities through misperception or poor perception.
In a simpler, day to day example… I was catching a train recently. It was morning, but few people were in the underground platform. Just a bit earlier, I had reminded myself to be mindful of the bags I am carrying with me. I had three.
At the station, while seated on a bench, I must have slipped my large “baggish” purse off my wrist to retrieve my phone, and thinking I still had the three bags with me, I leapt up and dashed into an arriving train.
As I was working my way to the center of the train car to leave room for others who may be getting on, a woman timidly crept up behind me to ask if that had been my bag on the bench.
Of course, at this point the doors were closed and the train was starting to move. And yes that had been my bag.
As I worked my way back to the door, all I could say was that that was my purse. Now I would have to wait till the train made it to the next stop, and then catch a train going back to the previous station in hopes the bag was still there.
The woman, who followed me, kept saying she should have taken it and thought to do so, but it occurred to her that maybe it was someone else’s. Given that I was the only one sitting on the bench and that the bag had been leaning up against me, not a very logical assumption. Then it occurred to her and she said it out loud, that she should have simply taken the bag and if it was not mine, could have left it with the station master at the next stop.
Yup, she had thought it through and quite quickly. But a bit too late. I didn’t say anything, just got off at the next stop and headed back.
Thankfully, the purse was still there and nothing had been taken in the 5 min. I was gone.
My would-be heroine was probably still feeling bad about her faulty judgement of the situation. Couldn’t she have been any one of us? I think she could.
Don’t we often go through our days, our work, our interactions with only partial presence? Partial consciousness? Sometimes pre-occupied, sometimes over focused on an objective or outcome that we are not paying attention to what is actually going on? Going on in the moment, or right in front of us?
What opportunity could we be missing out on, or losing?