I spend a lot of time thinking about my perceptions. Over the years, as I've studied various religions and read their sacred texts, I've come to understand that nothing is as we perceive it - at least not to anyone other than ourselves. Two people, no matter how closely related in mindset, understanding, or even philosophical views, can not look upon the same thing and perceive it alike. Regardless of what we believe, reality only exists in the way we perceive if for us alone. No one else views the world like I do.
We all know that family where all but one of the kids grows up to be successful and established in life. All but one. We may wonder what happened, if something went wrong in the way the parents treated that one child over the others. but the truth is, the only difference was how that child perceived the way they were raised. Our perceptions create our responses to the world.
Have you ever read a book that everyone was talking bout and recommending, only to read it and say, "I don't get it. What's so special?" The Alchemist was that book for me. So many people praised the book. Yet, I was bitterly disappointed when I read it. Perhaps my expectations were too great. Or perhaps it was just my perceptions. Probably the second.
You see, everything that ever happens in our lives installs a filter through which we view all future events. We don't see the world as it is, we see our filtered version of it. No two people ever have the exact same filters. Once we understand this, we can begin to uninstall those filters, relieving us from so much disappointment, frustration and pain.
To me, this is what writing is for. It provides a look at someone else's perceptions. We get to look through their eyes. And, yes, we still see what they see through our filters, so it's not exactly the same. But, it gives us the chance to recognize this and see our filters for what they are.
Writing a story just to tell a tale or for the purpose of entertaining people has it's place. But, to me, the truest writing is that which makes the reader question their understanding of the world. It provides a new way of perceiving, going beyond the filters to witness the 'man behind the curtain', if you will.
This is what I strive for when I write. I labor over every paragraph, wondering if I am saying too little, or too much. Wondering if I'm leading the reader, or trying to force them along. Wondering if my words are coming from my perceptions, or from truth. Don't get me wrong, it's impossible to not include some of my perceptions in the words I write. but not being aware that I am would present a story that would be far more one dimensional. It would only tell you what I think or how I feel. It wouldn't invite you to question for yourself. It wouldn't respect you or your way of seeing the world.
This is why I write, and what I look for in the books I read. Don't tell me one more story just like the thousands of other stories out there that all say the same thing. Make me think. Get me invested in your words. Make me feel like they could have been my words, too. I think this is what most readers want, what they expect, and what they will most remember. They might not remember the story, and that's okay. I want them to remember how it made them feel.
Yes, someday I hope to write an international best seller. But, only if it changes the world. Not just entertains it.