Isn’t there an old expression, “perception is nine-tenths of the law”…..ok, maybe that’s “ownership”. But the idea is kinda the same.
Facts are wonderful, but the way we perceive them is unique to each of us. When Daddy was gettin’ all over Leon when we were kids he was mostly spot-on every time. When he was fussing at me…..he really didn’t understand the situation, or he had the wrong son, or he was mad about something else and taking it out on me, or the sun was in his eyes…..
I was the most innocent teenager the world has ever seen…..or at least, that’s the way I perceived it in my own mind!
This perception thing might be the elephant in every room!
We even pick the foods we eat somewhat by perception. Ice cream is supposed to be good, Brussel sprouts, umm…...not so much. Wait a minute, Brussel sprouts might be the worst example I could have given! And it reminds me of a ’nother whole story altogether……
The summer before my senior year in high school I was head-over-heels in love with this tall handsome girl from Buchanan. I didn’t think I had a chance until one day she invited me over to her house to have dinner and “meet the folks”. I put on the best shirt I had and practiced being nice on the long ride out to Buchanan.
I was doing pretty good with my “yes sirs” and “your exactly right ma’ams” until they passed the Brussel sprouts down my way. I’d never seem them before but they looked harmless enough. Plus, I think her mom was really warming up to me. I dished out a big ole helping for myself.
Folks, I realized right before I spit a whole mouthful of boiled miniature cabbages back over my plate of pork shank and baked beans that perception didn’t have nothing to do with Brussel sprouts! They were just flat out awful. I mean, a bite of that stuff would make a freight train take a dirt road!
But in most every thing else, be it favorite ball teams, politics, movies, vacation destinations, fake news or grandkids, our perception greatly influences the way we act and react to the world around us. And it really makes a lot of sense. Come on now, you wouldn’t want to see the world through your big brother’s eyes, or your sister-in-law’s, or your crazy aunt’s up in Paducah for goodness sakes!
And listen, perception can change with age, circumstances, new information or one word from your wife.
In 1962 Leon would sneak the car out of the drive after dark and we’d take the long, back way out the Shiloh Road to the golf course. We parked a-ways before we got to the course, crawled through the weeds, past the no trespassing sign and slid silently into the pond that semi-guarded what was back then the third hole.
The object of such subterfuge was the sunken golf balls resting in the mud below. With any luck, we could make a little money here…..or at the very least, find some good balls to play with for a change. It was pitch black. And maybe not so legal. But I’ll never forget the excitement and thrill of the late night hunt!
We came alive in that slimy pond as we threw our “catch” up on the bank. Titleist were our favorites. But we’d take Spalding, Maxfli, Wilson K-28’s, even Faultless.
It was as much fun at the time as actually playing golf.
David Mark, who was right there neck deep in the water with us, came home from Viet Nam eight years later, enrolled at Bethel College and took a job managing the golf course. One afternoon he sent me down to the pond to gather golf balls. He told me I could have all the Titleist and he’d sell the rest.
It was broad daylight and golf course approved. He gave me a snorkel and I had on a bathing suit. I spent five minutes at it and quit forever. There was no “sport” to it at all! Diving up golf balls in such a benign, legal fashion changed the whole perception.
I’m telling you, the way we “see it” at the moment makes all the difference!
And you can readily guess what I’ve been pondering on as I recount this story…..reckon how my whole perception of life might have changed if I’d just taken the tall girl golf fishing instead of home to eat…..