Life is such an adventure, but its appeal for us depends so much on our attitude. One of the amazing things about this fact – that our attitude makes all the difference – is that this appears to be a law of nature. How we “reflect off” the events in our lives is crucial to our fate.
Most of us know a little bit about the nature of sight, the mechanics of seeing. We know less about the role played by light in our world. Light travels in units called photons. We know that these photons travel really fast, even when they have to bounce around in a world full of atoms to get where they are headed, which is everywhere. Photons travel so fast, we don’t notice that random atoms are impeding their progress a bit. In spite of that, they reflect off all the objects in our world and succeed in entering our eyes.
The lenses in our eyes focus this reflected light onto the light-sensitive rods and cones on the retina at the back of our eyeballs. (The rods work in dim or dark situations and the cones in bright light.) These create variable electrical charges sent along the optic nerve to the brain. Our brains interpret these stimuli as the visions that we see before our eyes. Did you know that the curvature of our eyes results in the images we receive being upside down? Our brains turn them right-side up for us.
What we are seeing is the reflected light. Any light absorbed by the objects we are looking at, we will not see. The same is true about colour. We only see the colours that the objects we are looking at reflect. All other colours are the ones that have been absorbed by these objects and we will not see them. Colour is all about light reflecting off the things in the world around us.
In the same way, it is our reactions to the realities we face in life that determine the kinds of lives we will lead. Different reactions, different lives. What does it mean to say that our reactions can be of overwhelming importance in determining our fates? It means that, to an important extent, our fates are in our own hands. (What does that do to the blame-games we have been nursing all our lives?)
I am getting to be what some people might term “an old guy.” Others, less kind, might say, “an old fool.” One would have to be foolish to live a whole life without understanding the principle I have enunciated above. And yet, it is only at this late date that this has become so clear to me.
Of course, I always knew I had to hustle my butt if I wanted to achieve the things I desired for my family and me. Yet, I never achieved the clarity of insight that I now have. I would venture to say that there are others of my fellow travelers who might have been, who might still be, wanting in this matter.
When all is said and done, there is no substitute for having a positive attitude. There are so many good things in our lives that we have to appreciate, that we have to be grateful for. There are so many people we pass every day who are less fortunate than we are. But that does not absolve us from the need to actively present our own best case to the world, to be up and at ’em every day, meeting the challenges we all face and will face. Without that, we are beat before we start.
Being open to the positive is a necessity if we hope to take advantage of any opportunities that might come our way if we reach out. Like the photons of light in our world, we move forward in our lives toward our goals in spite of impediments we might face; or we find paths to goals we hadn’t considered before.
I am not talking merely about amassing material possessions. I am talking about spending time working out how to ensure we are adding the colour we want to see in our lives. If all of this is dependent wholly on ourselves to determine what the elements of our lives are going to be – not our parents or our partners or our bosses or the economy – then what are we going to do about it? If, in spite of our positive attitude, we are not happy, if we are not satisfied, what are we going to do about it? I must confess, I never had this moment of clarity until I was 70 years of age. That’s a whole lot of living to have gone through without thinking about such things.
At the age of 71, unheralded, I flew across half a continent to try and reconnect with a woman I had known when we were teenagers more than 50 years before. I can report that we can look back now at almost 15 years of happily married life. We are keeping each other alive.
So, what I am writing about here is seeing the reflections off the objects (subjects?) that make up the elements of our lives. We have to be aware of the reflections streaming into our eyes, and consciously translate the images making their way into our brain. What colours are being reflected? Are we absorbing what those images are telling us? Or are we seeing them without really seeing them, same old, same old? And, if we do see them, and we don’t like what we see, what are we going to do about it? It is never too late to make an effort, I can tell you that!
Max Roytenberg is a Vancouver-based poet, writer and blogger. His book Hero in My Own Eyes: Tripping a Life Fantastic is available from Amazon and other online booksellers.