What You See is Not Always What You Get by Susanna Spies

From a young age, we hear disciplines like:

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”

Beauty is more than skin deep.”

One man’s trash is another’s treasure.”

I’m a believer that instead of “What you see is what you get”, it’s :“What you don’t see, is what’s more important.” It’s the casing inside that’s the treasure, and the same goes true for words, and their meanings, and the feelings attributed to why we say them.

Here you go, I got you a blueberry scone from Starbucks, thought you may enjoy!” I said while giving the kind 30 year old something lady, who was lying down on the church lawn across from where I live.

“Blueberry? I don’t like blueberry! Next time, could you get me the maple walnut kind? I went to get one and they were all out, and a vanilla soy latte to go?” While I assumed she may be hungry, I felt concern that she may not have had a place to go, and learned a lot that day.

Often times we walk through life not knowing someone’s true story. We see, to perceive, yet often draw our own conclusions without a full picture. This strikes me especially now, and something I think of great value as a 47 year old teen to fellow older teens, and to you our teens and leaders of tomorrow. Even more so in a poignant time, and sensitive political climate, this rises to the forefront.

One thing through the years I’ve noticed, is that the rules we follow, and the roads we take, are only directions in hopes to get clear. To help know the best steps in moving forward, and boundaries to abide by, to stay on track. But sometimes, it’s not just a straight line. A+B=C is one way of thinking, but I’m more of an A+L+T = Y kind of thinker, and have learned it helps to open up my own perspectives, and a broader reality.

I’ll never forget one day, while sitting at a cafe enjoying a meal with a friend of mine, an officer approached a pedestrian who happened to be sitting on the sidewalk amongst some of his belongings. While I learned from my prior experience, not to assume he was without a home, one thing was very clear to me. He was happy, enjoying his time, minding his own business amongst his things, regardless of his environment.

Shortly thereafter, an officer approached him, and provided a citation to him, for jaywalking. For crossing the street outside the crosswalk, walking between cars passing by back to his spot. The man was so confused and taken back, and I was so bothered by something that seemed so unimportant, despite the officer looking out for his safety, imposing the “rule”, and boundary of the law. Yet seconds after seeing this happen, I couldn’t help but think, he gave a homeless man a jay walking ticket, … yet, couldn’t it be then, that the man had the right to say, “But officer, you just walked through my living room to give it to me, so isn’t that trespassing?”

Although situations like this can clearly be unsettling, the room for finding the funny, is always there. By recognizing that the perspective may be different from the officer’s eyes, to the man’s eyes, there can be a very different way in viewing the world.

Yet how can we each find common ground, when our perspectives can be so different?

The best connector, and way to cut through the unexpected, or to put a question mark to an exclamation mark, is through humor.

To know that we can see something we may not agree with, but that the options we have can either be positive or negative. Humor is a way that even through the negative, it can transform into something positive.

So, what you see isn’t always what you get, but a rainbow of opportunity to learn how to be sensitive to others, see outside yourself to find compassion, and by developing humor, you can bridge unsettledness towards a means of compassion and understanding.

Here are 5 steps for finding humor and shifting perspective:

  1. Look around you. Be open to your surroundings.

  2. Find something familiar, shift your perspective to see something new you hadn’t noticed before.

  3. Go see something new. Open your environment to a new experience. Watch animals in a park, how they interact. If they could talk, what would they say to one another?

  4. See with your eyes, and watch with all your senses.

  5. Keep a journal of what you experienced in the week. This encourages a means to connect sight with writing, both key tools in developing our perspectives, and structure for humor.

    © 2014 Daniel ScherlSusanna SPIES is one of Your Monthly Mentors, a seasoned educator and Founder and President of Comedy Playground, LLC, showcasing at The Hollywood Improv located in California. With a performance background, Spies has worked within mediums of television and film, and has performed stand up comedy on stages throughout the nation. Known for her many “faces”, in 2013 she debuted over 30 characters in her one-woman show “The Dryer” and was featured on Nuvo TV’s Stand & Deliver, E-One Entertainment’s Uncontrolled Comedy, and the Youtube sensation “Carol” of “Carol & Claire in The Angela Hoover web series, as well as dozens of national commercials, and Independent Feature Films. Read More… 


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