believing is seeing


(* i see a rainbow too by Jucshee on

The idea that no two people who walk into a room will perceive it precisely the same way was borne out when a work friend recently visited our home for the first time.

We chatted leisurely over coffee and cake and then, eventually, came time to go.

Walking him to his car, he looked back at the house and said: “There’s smoke coming from the chimney.” Well, yes, that will be from the fire in the lounge. “You have a fire in the lounge?” he said, seemingly surprised. “I didn’t notice.”

Hello! How could you not notice? You were sitting diagonally across from it – basking in radiant heat.

Admittedly, our mate may be a little unusual in the way he views the world, but then what each person sees is as unique as the iris itself.

Walking my dog today I notice a clump of miniature pansies have pushed through the pavement near one corner.

On that same narrow isthmus I also frequently see a local minister, but encountering Father Ken in my mother’s nursing home room after one such walk recently it’s clear he has never before noticed me … even though I would have passed within half a metre of him six, maybe seven times within the past month.

Supposing she could still walk this block, my mother would certainly see and bail up Father Ken.

She would notice the broken fence at No. 5 and the “sad, skinny” dog in the yard (mum – it’s a whippet, that’s what they look like), but the smug ginger tabby on a cushion in the sun on the porch at the same house? Not on her radar!

While Father Ken, pounding the pavement polishing his sermon, may see only a parishioner he might have wished, at that moment, to avoid.

Three people, on the same three metres of pavement at the same time, and they might as well be on different planets.

My mother’s way of looking at things, before her stroke, always oppressed me.

Where I saw sun, surf and sand she saw stonefish, sea snakes and sharks.

I’d fly a kite, she’d have me strangled by the string.

Now, science suggests the glass-half-empty people of the world may actually be born that way.

A new study has found a link between a specific gene known to play a part in emotional memories and where people tend to focus their eyes and attention.

In short, people with a certain profile of amino acids on this particular gene tend to be more likely to notice the negative.

It’s all about genes contributing to ways you perceive the sensory world,” lead author of the article Genes for Emotion-Enhanced Remembering Are linked to Enhanced Perceiving study Rebecca Todd said.

The idea we take away is we really do live in different worlds.”

Today my mother sees all manner of things that I can’t.

There’s a fox running across the garden where I see a waving branch of lilac.

There’s a bird’s nest with two little birds where I perceive only a bracket on a downpipe.

A black cat crouching where I espy two upturned plastic pots.

And if she can finally see a rainbow on that once bleak horizon, who am I to say it’s not there.




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