My Path isn't Your Path

Growing up I was under the impression that everyone thought the same way I thought. I thought everyones eyes saw life through the same set of lens, creating an understanding we all shared. 

I never understood why we all couldn't get along since we all saw the same things.

I assumed my path through life was similar to everyone else's path. I assumed everyone had a mom and a dad, maybe different siblings then I had, and they lived in a house with a yard and a swing set. I thought both parents worked and the whole world, which consisted of a few houses on my short street, saw life the same way I did.

I naively thought that my small world was the same world for everyone. 

I don't specifically remember when that changed. I do know there are more people who think that everyone thinks like them, then there are people who see complexity in thought. It's a hard reality that we don't all live on the same path. Those diverging paths create discomfort, angst, arguments and wars.

An individual walks a specific path that creates that individuals perception. I have three siblings, raised in the same house by the same parents and we all have very different perceptions of life. 

My father worked for the Government. Every time he moved up the Government pay scale, we moved. We moved every 3-6 years. Moving created many life perceptions. I rarely had roots in any community. I had to make new friends every time I changed school. I saw the differences each community developed and the vast differences in community as I traversed the country.

I was exposed to different life experiences than someone who grew up in one location. 

When I had children, my husband and I decided we would stay in one location. We chose a resort town on the New Jersey coast. 

My children grew up on a comparably straight path compared to mine, with different perceptions of the world than my upbringing exposed me to. 

Now, as I age and I live in a city, I hear and see all the varying degrees of perception come up in conversation. Cities make those differences obvious, they can't be avoided.

When I lived in the small, cloistered resort town, the varying degrees of perception were much smaller. Most people I knew fell within belief systems that were similar. Politics, religion, clothing styles, financial status, world viewpoints were all held in a small circumference.

From my perspective, there weren't vast differences in opinions, belief systems financial status and thought processes. Vast difference being relative and subjective.

Moving to the city exposed me to perspectives vastly different than what I was used to. I am exposed, whether I want to be or not, to many different types of religion, clothing styles, financial well being, experiences, education levels, and belief systems. 

Being exposed to such varying degrees of perception broaden my perspective, whether I want it broadened or not. 

A seemingly simple book club meeting turns into a comparison between growing up in the Middle East to another friends experience in Brooklyn. The Jewish Pharmacist from Colorado has a different take on the book than the Muslim immigrant from Syria. 

Walking down the street exposes me to someone sleeping in a cardboard box, another person walking between cars stopped at a red light asking for money. Daily, I walk past million dollar homes beautifully set around world class museums on boulevards full of fine art. Paradoxically, the people living on the street seem so out of place.

A perception of life I was not aware of when I lived in the quiet suburban beach resort.

Who we were born of and what our parents life experiences were, created their choices. Those choices fall on the lives of the children they bear. Those children, raised under the belief systems of the parents, create the perceptions for their children, who then carry those belief systems into the lives and onto the lives of their children. And so on and so forth.

Those perceptions and paths aren't right or wrong, they are simply different. My path isn't your path. We all walk different paths. 

Though we are all human beings living a shared experience, that experience is very different for each one of us. 

It isn't until we choose to examine our perceptions, belief systems and experiences our life's paths took us on, that we can accept we all have different perceptions. Once we are aware of those differences, only then can we choose what to do with our vastly different perceptions. 

Do we force change on others? Do we accept one another for who they are? Do we love one another regardless of those perceptions? Do we fight for what we believe to be the "right" perception? 

I don't know. I know I've done all of the above. I still haven't figured out the answer. 

Have you?

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