Eye of the Beholder


Son #3 wants to be a cat. Not the strangest part of my morning.

Son #2 wants to be an astronomer when he grows up. Not an astronaut. That’s not exciting enough.

Son #1 wants to be a bike rider.

Besides weeping for my future retirement, I want to focus on Son #2’s definition of excitement. Because I don’t know about you, but travelling 28,000 km/hr and floating around space seems pretty darn exciting to me. But maybe he thinks excitement is driving your own research forward as opposed to just running someone else’s experiments. Maybe excitement is the slow, methodical build of discovering something great. I’m not sure. All I know is that his definition of excitement isn’t quite the same as mine. That doesn’t make it wrong.

Our language has evolved into a rich pallet we can use to create our landscape, but what happens when our intended message isn’t received that way? How many times do we get frustrated with the lowly employee who needs to be told, again and again, how to do something?

Are we like a painter, where the meaning lies in the eye of the beholder? That would be chaos! Is the recipient responsible for trying to understand what we meant? Partially. Unfortunately, not all of us are Picasso and people are unlikely to spend hours contemplating the true meaning of our message. That means the rest lies with us.

Not everyone likes abstract paintings. Some prefer photography. Repeating the same message, “As I told you before…” is just hammering the same bent nail, only a little harder. We need to try different words, different media, and different approaches. We have to assume the fault lies with us which is awesome, because that means there is something we can do about it.

The meaning is in the eye of the beholder, after all. Good thing we aren’t tied to a single canvas.

As a side note, I spent ten minutes meowing like a cat with son #3. Not sure what I was communicating, but he seemed happy. It really is all about them. 🙂

I just hope I didn’t agree to by him a car.


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