(Oh yes, this is poetry AND a blog post. You've been forewarned.)
This might be me patting myself on the back, but I'd like to think I can get along with pretty much everyone. It's partly due to positive reasons (it takes a lot to rub me the wrong way and I tend to default towards seeing the good in everyone) and partly due to negative reasons (I can be painfully unassertive and a bit of a chameleon if I feel that showing my true colors would cause friction). But, for the most part, I like people and enjoy most people's company.
And then there are people that, on some energetic, *je nes se qua* level, I just can't do well around them.
For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what it was exactly about them that would cause such clashing. There weren't any behavioral patterns I could identify (although being a raging, hateful bigot is a great way for us to not see eye-to-eye): the awkward, the charismatic, the outgoing, the reserved -- it seemed like I had just as much of a chance at connecting with them as I did repelling from them.
It took a set of conversations with someone who didn't really seem to be actually hearing what I was saying -- or was only hearing it through the thickest filter you could find -- before I realized what it was:
Level of projection.
We all project out into the world. To steal from Anais Nin, we don't see the world as it is; we see the world as we are. We project out ideals and values. We project motivations (and HOW MANY TIMES have we gotten ourselves into a sticky situation because we swore we knew a person's motivations, only to be completely wrong?). We project out what we expect of the world and what we think is expected of us.
It becomes a balance of projection versus actual observation. And the level of projection varies greatly from person to person.
Unfortunately, some people don't even observe the world at all. They interact with the world like it's one gigantic movie projector screen. Sometimes, nothing bad would come of it. They project out, it lines up more or less with the perceived world of others, and we all move along.
And sometimes it doesn't.
When that happens, those people splinter into two groups: those who realize how much they were projecting and reassess/recalibrate (this is a rare group and I applaud those who can do this, even on only rare occasions), and those who get pissed off that the world doesn't line up with their projections.
And that's the linking factor with every person I tend to clash with on that energetic, insert-French-saying-here, level.
And, again, I do that myself. Heavens knows it has taken over a decade of at times fruitless self-evaluation to notice when I'm one gigantic movie projector -- not really perceiving the world so much as I am imagining it. I still get into conversations where I realize I'm projecting a whole slew of stuff, from motivations to word meanings to everything in between. This is not exactly an exact science, and I'm not exactly immune to the very thing I'm talking about.
But the key is in what happens next. Do we realize what we're doing and at least attempt to be a little more open, or do we crank up the noise on our projectors and hope we can drown out what reality actually is? When we realize we've built faulty narratives about a certain situation, a community, a certain ideal or even a certain person, are we willing to reassess those views, or will we fortify them with self-righteousness and indignation?
I used to say that all it takes is a good heart and I'll like the person in front of me, warts and all. Now I'm realizing I'm a tad more exclusive: a good heart and a willingness to shut down the projector from time to time.
She viewed the world
like a canvas, a blank sheet, something
flat and white to take in
what she projected out: her
ideas and ideals, what she thought
the world should be and how it all
And how angry she got
whenever she found paint
and texture, scenes already drawn out
landscapes and portraits interrupting
her perfected projection