Paul Bloom said: “Enjoying fiction requires a shift in selfhood. You give up your own identity and try on the identities of other people, adopting their perspectives so as to share their experiences. This allows us to enjoy fictional events that would shock and sadden us in real life.”
Sometimes I feel like living in a world of fiction. Just for a moment. It would certainly give me a broader perspective. I could shed my world view, suspend disbelief for just a short while to see things differently, in newer ways.
I feel saddened by events of late. Experiences that feel foreign to me, different from my world view. So different that I freeze for moments at a time, unable to move or speak. I feel unlike myself in so many ways. I become someone else, inauthentic to my usual self-assurance and focus. I become fearful and experience a temporary memory lapse of the knowledge and insight that normally resides so easily in me.
I have become more aware of these moments of shock, sadness and alienness that accompanies polarizing views. And with years of experience in shifting perspective, I’m still taken hostage by my primal fears. The more aware of how unconscious these moments make me, the quicker I can shake them off. It’s a constant, constant practice.
In our shifting world, local and global events bring me to the brink. In my own world, I have opportunities to work with people who think and act very differently from the way that I do. Do I conform or do I challenge? Is challenge just another way of rejecting or taking control? I find that hard to accept.
Likewise globally, I hear stories of conflict and discord. Do I judge others, raise myself to a different level? It’s a conundrum. For me, it’s a constant challenge because I truly value difference and want to have a tolerance for change. Yet, when the judge in me rises up, the voice of intolerance speaks up. I feel disoriented, off balance, on edge. When we judge others, we are judging ourselves, the mirror effect.
Being on this edge of change challenges my sense of change tolerance. I feel paralized. Yet with time, I realize that that the fear is natural, a natural reflex. Recent events and experiences have taught me to be gentle with myself, to notice the fear, the discomfort and to take pause. Just for a few moments. In those few moments of quiet I have ready access to my authentic voice. My broader perspective shines the light on the polarizing effect. I see it more as a spectrum. I feel a shift in perspective. I feel myself move through the spectrum from one polar view to another, like a metronome moves from beat to beat. In the movement, I see new ways of perceiving an event and an experience. Fiction becomes real. Real experiences lead to real conversations. Real, fluid and moving conversations that shift us from conformity to creativity, from control to collaboration.
Kristin Armstrong said: “It’s not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.”
I embrace the reset and rather than give up my self-identity and live in disbelief, I explore fiction and non-fiction. In the exploration, self-perception expands to adopt new learning from new experiences and challenges. I’d much rather prepare myself for the eventuality that comes with experiencing polarizing views, knowing that in the experience, my world view and my identity expands and grows.