I had a very metaphysical Thursday this week. My wife and I had a lunch date in a park overlooking Lake Union during a rare bout of sunshine, and I was talking fairly lucidly about lenses and filters as metaphors for systems of thought and belief. Our context was a recent news story about a private religious school who had invited and then disinvited a popular band based on their name. “Steve”, I think it was.
The goal of the college was to “engage the culture” as seen through the lens of its particular belief system. I thought that this was sadly limiting and was trying to find a way of making my point clear to my wife.
Looking beyond my wife out of the driver’s side window, I saw a large green leafy plant next to the car, which served as a great jumping off point. If, I said to my wife, I am simply standing there staring at this plant, I will be able to experience the plant as it appears at that moment.
On the other hand, if I’m using a camera to take a picture of the plant, there is an artificial device between me and the plant that is shaping the plant’s image according to its physical limitations (aperture size, diameter, curvature, etc.). I can alter or manipulate the image in ways that please or displease me, but I will be having a different experience with a different object – a photograph, not the subject of the photograph.
Living, I concluded, is about experiencing things as they truly are. The need for clear sight is obvious, but rather than putting on more filters or searching for a new and better lens, perhaps what we need to do is remove those lenses and filters that distort our vision in the first place.
She began feeding me a delicious cinnamon roll from a wonderful bakery she’d been to on her way to meet me, so I can only hope she agreed.