A few thoughts on time, perspective and circumstance

time

So, before I get into some pretty long-winded thoughts, I’d like to give you a friendly reminder that there is currently a Happy Maps giveaway happening here on This Tiny Blue House. Feel free to enter for a chance to win your very own personalized Happy Map if you haven’t already! Good luck to everyone who has already entered!


Recently, Mer and I sat down to watch a Hemingway documentary on Netflix called Papa. Have you seen it? It really is an interesting window into Hemingway’s life so if you haven’t seen it I would recommend you watch it. Mer isn’t much of a reader and although he knew who Hemingway was he really didn’t know much about him so he was especially interested in watching.  When we got to the part about Hemingway’s 6-word novel (the famous: For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn) – Mer and I just looked at each other with a blank stare and understood perfectly well what the statement was insinuating.

Or, did we?

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What ensued was an interesting conversation about time, perspective and circumstance.

Clearly, we both assumed that there was a dead child involved. But, were our assumptions based on our own experiences of time, perspective and circumstance or is there some universal understanding that when a pair of unworn baby shoes are sold there is a deceased child involved?

When I was a kid my father would tell me that everyone had “cobwebs in their closet” and that “some were thicker” but ultimately everyone had them. I think the conversation started when I broke down crying after my parents separated. It was the late 80’s and by cultural standards at that time I was ashamed of my home life. He told me not to worry about it because everyone had dusty cobwebs hidden in the very back of their closet.

Okay, back to what I was getting at here.

It’s really quite amazing how our own experiences have shaped the way we perceive things around us. Before our losses, I doubt we would have made such a heartbreaking assumption about such a potentially simple statement. We likely may have arrived at it eventually but it would probably not have been our first conclusion. Years ago, my brain would likely have wandered to ideas that the child outgrew the shoes before getting the chance to wear them or perhaps the child had more than one pair rendering this pair unnecessary or that poverty was at the root of the decision to sell them. I doubt though that my brain would have instinctively led me down the path of dead babies.

But, now it does. And, it  highlights that perceptions are altered based on circumstances that are unique to each and every one of us. Our story really dictates how we perceive the world around us doesn’t it?

To the parents who have lost children, that 6 word-novel could mean that a child died. A miscarriage, a still birth, infant loss – the possibilities are endless.

While to some it could be an example of poverty.

To others it could be interpreted as necessity – selling a child’s baby shoes to feed a habit, to turn the lights back on, to buy food, to fuel the car to get to a job interview, to make some extra cash to purchase medication. The possibilities are truly endless.

I suppose then that our individual perceptions of what that statement truly means is fueled by who we are, where we come from and what our  lives look like both past and present.

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Interpreting blog posts functions quite the same way I think. When I write something it comes from my perspective – an anxious repeat loss mom who is acutely aware of what it means to be poor, move up the socioeconomic ladder only to find herself in heaps and heaps of consumer debt years later. But, to those who don’t have those same set of cobwebs, my opinions and beliefs could potentially be misinterpreted ya know?

Perhaps, when I make a blanket statement like “I’m jealous of other women’s pregnancies” it might make me appear to be vile, envious and shallow. But, to those know me, know my story, know my struggle- I might get a little leniency.

The reality behind that statement is that getting my baby here safely was horribly difficult.  Does my statement now become less terrible? Does the meaning somehow change? Does my own circumstance change the intention?

Blog posts, and writing in general is tricky. Often times I catch myself reading and re-reading my posts because I know what baggage comes with my writing but most of the time you the reader don’t. Clearly, there are certain aspects of my life that I’ve shared and if you’ve been reading for a little while you’ll know that I mean no harm by statements like the one above but to a new reader who doesn’t necessarily understand my history that statement might be interpreted completely differently.

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As I’m growing this here blog I’m realizing more and more how perspective and circumstance influence both what I read and what I write. I’ve read countless blog posts from women who are “over” their pregnancies. From their perspectives it’s an innocent claim that likely has no intention of piercing through a loss mom like me. From my perspective, that claim makes me cringe because well you know – some women would give absolutely anything – make a deal with the devil even to bring a healthy full-term baby into the world. Perspective and circumstance.

This applies to everything really. Discussions on minimalism, vegetarianism, veganism, politics, opinions, beliefs, religion on so on and so on.

Essentially, anytime we put something out there we are opting to have our words which are inspired and peppered by our own perspectives interpreted by people and their unique worldview right?

How much effect do you think perspective has on interpretation of blog posts and writing in general?

What are your thoughts and interpretation of  Hemingways 6 word-novel?

 

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Author: Jenny

I'm Jenny, a 30-something mama to 1 living child and 5 angels. I live in a tiny blue cottage in a small suburb outside a major Canadian city. I live here with my miracle baby Margs, my husband Mer, my pup and my 2 cats. I blog about a bunch of different things including parenting, frugal living and minimalism. Feel free to subscribe to my blog and follow me on instagram, twitter or bloglovin.

35 thoughts on “A few thoughts on time, perspective and circumstance”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your own perspective and circumstance, and using it as the lens to explore Hemingway’s short story. I was just introduced to it a week ago by my teacher in a creative writing class. We then looked at some 140 character tweet examples of flash fiction, and were invited to write our own, which is the subject of my latest blog post, here https://anotherwisemonkey.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/short-tweet/ What has been really interesting, reading our work out to the class yesterday, was how wildly different the interpretations of those 140 character stories were for the 15 people in that class. When you reduce something down to such a small amount of content, words become loaded with ambiguity and the reader becomes co-author of the story.

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  2. That was a beautiful post. I agree. People tend to assume things based on their own experiences in life because, even if we really do try, it’s not really possible to step into someone else’s shoes, is it? Your cobwebs, as you put it, aren’t the same as anyone else’s. Even how you view your own story is changed by each new web. My brother and I were talking about an incident in our childhood a few weeks back. We had completely different perception on what had happened and how it carries on into our current story. It’s the same cobweb, but from different sides of the closet.

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  3. Excellent post. I totally get where you’re coming from. I’ve had enormous losses in my life and it has created the introvert that is me. I used to be very extroverted and social. I now look at life inside the lens of “suspect of harm”. My losses have pulled me within and although there’s been years of therapy….I am still inside myself, looking at the world with hesitation. It certainly does change our perspective. I think back on what life was like before…I miss those times and wish life could be a such again.

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  4. I have had 5 pregnancies, and I have given birth to 5 fabulous children. If my husband would allow it I would have 5 more, or 10 more, or as many as God will give me. I immediately went to that dark sad place of loss when I read those 6 words. I have known others to suffer that loss, and I personally almost died during my 4th delivery because my epidural was too high. But I digress… I think empathy is an important virtue that more people need to practice (myself included) because we lose sight that everyone is looking at the world through their glasses, and those may be broken, smudged, or even rose colored. That means their view is totally different from mine. Thanks for pointing this out, also I now want to watch this movie you speak of.

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  5. Good thoughts and I completely agree, we all write from our own world view. I’m not sure it’s possible not too. In light of this knowledge I think it should cause us to ponder our words perhaps a little more and also pepper the words of others with grace, knowing their convictions come from their own sacred place (or closet of cobwebs)

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  6. You are spot on with what you are saying! ‘Death of the Author’ by Roland Barthes indicates – as it suggests – that a piece of writing ends with the author and begins with the reader’s response, so essentially everyone interprets what they read with through their own experiences.

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  7. Life can be not what we hoped for. Not always. I don’t think people should go through losses and struggles to find out how great it is to live, but anything can happen. I do understand your writing well. I have had periods when there was absolutely nothing to eat. Literally. After relocating to Canada, I was wondering at first how spoiled everybody seemed to be. I found out later that people here are much sicker than they are in countries where food is still not chemical and much simpler. So, I am always comparing. The cause and the effect. I will visit again, in fact I started to read more posts, just have to go to the store at the moment.
    Thanks from https://inesepogalifeschool.com/

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    1. I think that losses and grief changes people. Without my losses I doubt I’d appreciate the small moments I do today. It really changed who I am.

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  8. Yes, we write from our own worldview, life experience, and circumstances. And yes, there is always the danger we will be misunderstood. It’s sometimes overwhelmingly scary to put ourselves out there in black ink on a white page. Yet that is what we must do. That is what begins conversations about subjects needing discussion. We must be courageous in our sharing. Keep on being brave!

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  9. When I first read of this story, I immediately assumed the baby had died. My second thought was that his wife had died or was unable to have children and they were giving up trying. As someone who has never had, never lost, never wanted children I think my assumption of death or infertility comes from my loved experience – the stories that stand out in your mind are the tragic ones, the ones newspaper articles are written about. It is fascinating to see another side 🙂

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    1. This is very true. Personal experience doesn’t always dictate how we necessarily see things. Exposure does absolutely influence our perception. And, with the advent of modern media and the extent to which news and stories can be shared I think it somehow makes certain difficulties in life more normalized.

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  10. This is so true. I think it’s so important to read other people’s writing with this in mind and practise empathy and compassion no matter what your automatic reaction might be. Within reason I think it’s ok to censor what you say and write in order not to offend people, but it’s also so important to embrace and candidly share your perspective and experiences based on your special ‘cobwebs’. Otherwise how can we foster mutual understanding. And we so seem to need more of it these days!

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  11. In my YOUTH I’ve been from Prince Edward through to Vancouver Islands. GOLFED within the Arctic Circle. Learned to act like “Paul Bunyon” at the Montreal WORLD’S FAIR, where within the “MAN and His SCIENCE Pavillion, witnessed a PARKINSON’S victim get his CONTROL returned vis one of the FIRST “remote” surgeries of North America. Dresden allowed me to travel Harriet Tubman’s Lit path to SEE what “WE” African-Americans MISCONSTURED for the Name “UNCLE TOM”, who just happened to run HUNDREDS of ACRES of FARM LAND to FEED ALL.
    THANK YOU for reading a blurb from someone that LEARNED by the “LAND UP NORTH”.
    I was ONE of the FIRST “BLACKS” to be invited to try out for an American HOCKEY TEAM… the COLUMBUS, (OHIO), GOLDEN SEALS, ‘MOE’ BARTOLI as COACH.
    I envy your place on this world.
    “D”

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  12. I didn’t read the othe comments because I wanted to give my opinion first and then go back and see if others felt the same way. I thought that it meant someone gave them a gift of baby shoes and the parents went “um it is a newborn, why does she need shoes.”
    This is an awesome piece of writing. Just one how our own perspective on what we read comes from our past. Very very cool

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  13. Essentially everything has to do with perspective. We had a teaching retreat at my temple this past week, and we talked a lot about this. The only thing we have custody of is our own actions. You can never be held responsible for what someone hears when you speak, or even how they react to it. The only thing you can do is know your intentions and what you say and do. If someone else takes it in a different way, that becomes their issue, not yours. It’s very hard to come to terms with that, because when you say something, you want people to hear it the way you mean it, but like you said, we all have our own “cobwebs” that cause us to have certain feelings about things.

    As for the Hemmingway thing, honestly I would have come to the same conclusion you did. I’ve never lost a baby though, and maybe I’m just a dark person, who knows! You are right though, that there could be a million reasons for the shoes to be unworn. Somehow loss is just the first thing that comes to mind. But then again with some thought, I feel like if it was me, and I lost a child, I don’t know if I could bear to sell the shoes, and I would likely keep them as a memory. A lot of things seem different on face value than they do if you really think about it. It’s funny how we think about things and where our minds gravitate to.

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  14. Biases affect everything we do and respond to things. I am not sure how I would have perceived that before reading your blog. I have been fortunate enough to never lose a baby but have been in medicine for most of my life. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

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