Recently I've been contemplating what it means to have "perspective" and how that plays a role in the way in which we take in the world around us. Oscar Wilde phrases the contemplation this way: "Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter."
As of last week, I was given this quote as well as the assignment to "project myself—my interiority or state of mind—onto the observed thing."
Woah. I thought to myself "Okay, so I'm writing a self-portrait instead of drawing one? That's a new one." Here is what I found myself with upon completion of the exercise:
What is perspective, if not a mere projection of ourselves and thoughts onto the world we see around us? Perhaps this is why when reading this prompt I read "interiority" as "inferiority." I can see this written self-portrait of myself going in a variety of ways, just as I can see my future going as well. I see a small but mighty girl with roots in Tennessee who has also been mistaken for a European international student. Her Austrian roots "reflect strongly in her manner and demeanor", she was told recently.
I see a girl who sometimes feels limited or defined by her age and often takes offense to slight mentions of being called "kiddo"" or "little bit" while out in public. Perhaps this is because this girl always struggles with "living in the moment" when her mind is racing a million miles a minute to dream about what the future might hold or who she might become. She's not anxious or unhappy in her present state but she always keeps a small string tethered to the kite that is the idea of the looming future and all of its possibilities.
She is often referred to as "confident" or "unstoppable" when it comes to her work ethic but when the moon comes up and the sun goes down, the stars aren't the only thing that becomes illuminated. Her fears, inferiorities and short-comings begin to light up too as her mess of brown, tousled curls fall around her face, making her look as youthful and naive as she will all day.
Perhaps she feels this too. Everyone has some sort of security blanket and for her, it happens to be her grown-out, Austrian-heritage hair that carelessly sprawls about on the fresh, white pillowcase as she clinches her eyes shut after a mentally taxing day of trying to live both in the present and future.
She envies her hair; the most carefree thing about her. It curls and roams and lives as it wishes without any awareness of what it "should" or "shouldn't" be doing.
She then catches herself with the thought that "envy is a green-eyed monster" as countless adults have told her so many years before.
"Think. Correct. Modify. Act. Repeat." This is the cycle she falls into with each action of every day.
As she eventually drifts off to sleep, after running through her nightly, mental list of "what-if's" and "to-dos" she thinks to herself how liberating it is that for the next few hours, her mind can roam and dream without the policing and censoring she often places on herself throughout the day.
She thinks to herself how liberating it is to recognize the power and control that comes with acknowledging the projections that find their way into her daily perspective.
My hope is that my sharing of this exercise urges you to become aware of your own perspective without shouldering the desire to change your perspective. Simple awareness is the goal.