The car mirror approach to life

You know how your car has a sticker on the side mirror that says "objects are closer than they appear"? This is actually a good reminder for life in general. Things are rarely what they seem.

I just returned home from an advanced screening of the film, "People Like Us" with Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from it. However, I was pleasantly surprised and I loved the ending. I don't want to give away the good stuff, but there was one scene where Chris Pine lamented that his dad always sat in the car when he took him to the park as a kid. This story was meant to illustrate the distance in their relationship; how his dad wasn't close to him. Enter the metaphoric car mirror. Objects are closer than they appear. In fact, there was more to the story than Chris' character realized and the situation was much more complicated than he knew. (I really want to tell you more about the park, but I don't want to ruin it for you if you see the film!)

In any case, after I left the movie theater I started to ponder how quickly we all jump to conclusions about people. Stan is cranky in the mornings at work, so he's a jerk. Sarah always declines your lunch invitation, so she must be stuck up. But, is there, perhaps, more to the story? 

What if Stan is cranky in the morning because he's up every night taking care of his invalid wife, whom he loves deeply? What is Sarah turns down your lunch invitations because all her spare money goes to pay for therapy for her troubled son? Hmm. Stan's not such a bad guy and Sarah's not a snob anymore, are they?

Whether it be in the workplace or in our personal lives, we all form opinions based on very few facts. That's something I would love to see change. They say you don't know a man until you walk a mile in his shoes. And, that is so true. We all have our baggage, challenges, and obstacles. Some openly share the drama of their everyday lives and others live lives of quiet desperation.

The next time you're quick to gossip at the water cooler in the break room or to form an uncomplimentary opinion about someone, stop and think. Do you really know the whole story? And, is the whole story even your business? Things are frequently not what they seem--and objects may be closer than they appear. 

24 comments:

  1. Thanks for reminding us that things are rarely what they appear. We usually come to conclusions based on a world view that has us at the center. In reality, most people's actions are NOT caused by us. We need to get over ourselves and open our hearts and minds to the bigger universe of possibilities. 

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  2. You don't have baggage if you are Teflon like me........:). 

    3+ years ago I decided to be a volunteer Guardian ad Litem. A Guardian ad Litem is an advocate for a child whose welfare is a matter of concern for the court....meaning they have been placed in the 'system' because something very bad is going on in their life.

    When I took the training, the judge who was swearing us in advised us to throw out the window whatever you thought 'normal' was and that is absolutely true. 

    I've been involved with some really messed up situations and some are uncomfortable due to the nature of the incidents that caused the kids to get placed in the 'system'. However, it truly has given me a better perspective of what really is important and I do a much better job of not pre-judging someone. 

    You really don't know unless you walk a mile in someone else's shoes. 

    That's my story so of course I had to make it about me.......:).

    I hope you have a great weekend. 

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  3. This, my friend, should be required reading!  It so profoundly reminds us that there is ALWAYS more to the story than meets our eye.  It's not always easy to be mindful of that when we experience our knee jerk reactions to people's behavior but, if we mentally step back, take a deep breath and remember that objects may, indeed, appear different in that mirror.  Excellent reminder Amber!!
    And...I can't wait to see that movie now!!
    xoxo
    Claudia

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  4.  Excellent point, Tea. You're right. Most see themselves as the center. Humans are kind of warped that way, huh?

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  5.  Wow, that must be an incredible experience, Bill. And, I bet, very enlightening. Kudos to you for assuming such an important role in a kid's life.

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  6. Hey Claudia,

    You hit the nail on the head. Knee jerk. We all do it and I have to wonder, is it something we're taught or something inherit to humans? We just all have to have an opinion. Even when it doesn't affect us in the least.

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  7. Love this post! Excellent, excellent advice. I'll be sharing with all my readers. One thing I say often is that you can only see scars on the outside, but sometimes it's the scars on the inside that hurt the most. Invisible ailments can really hold people back and yet, others can't see them or understand their struggles. I'm a Chris Pine fan, so I'll be watching for this movie!

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  8. I think this is sort of the chicken and the egg question. Which came first? I'm sure that the fact that many people make snap judgement affects us/teaches us. But I also think people are reactionary and naturally self focused (and I mean that in a "I'm the center of my universe and have to look out for my best interests so of course I'll be self focused" way.) Perhaps that's it. That, and maybe we're naturally nosy. 

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  9. Amber,
    Not too long ago I had this exact conversation with my sister-in-law. We were upset about something or someone in our family and she finally turned to me and said: "you just never know what is really going on in anyone's life."
    I learned this also when managing a team of young women in an IT Department. Everybody's life story is different...some come from very stable homes and some have a mother who suffers from addiction and father who committed suicide in his 20s...the stories go on...and so I learned the best thing to do was to observe. Be aware of little signs that tell more of the story and be available, but not pushy.
    It is important to remember this when "talking" to people on their blogs. You cannot always interpret "tone" in a post or a comment.
    So anyway, have a good holiday weekend, I will watch for the movie to come to Tucson.
    Take care...Judy

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  10.  Yes, you're so correct Judy. We see it in the news all the time. People who live next to a serial killer and said he was the nicest guy. You never really know what's happening in someone else's life. You only know what they want you to know.

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  11.  Interesting observation, Selena. And so true. We all need to keep the snap judgments in check, huh?

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  12.  I think that's true, Selena. People think about how something affects THEM instead of how someone else is affected.

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  13. Another Great post.  People often motor through life, without a "single thought", about the fact that others lives are full of dilemmas/obstacles.  Going about their day with thoughts, of only themselves.  I find this is true, more and more often.  And You're right, it's not only none of their business what goes on in another person's life; it is also true, that not one person has the right to judge another's life!  Yet, people do.  It would certainly be nice if, life were a more, "User Friendly", application!  ;) 

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  14. Being human is our biggest strength and our biggest weakness, huh?

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  15. I think we tend to try to look at the world solely through our own eyes and experiences. When people don't act as we would it sometimes makes us think that they have no logic or are quite strange but as you illustrated there are other possibilities.

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  16. Hi Amber, That is so true. Very often I have found out that people were struggling with challenges I was completely unaware of. Sometimes it affects their moods, sometimes it doesn't. Often I feel bad for people who are in a bad mood because there is something very wrong with their lives.

    Thanks for the reminder, Amber. I look forward to seeing that movie!

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  17.  To quote Amanda Marshall, "Everybody's Got a Story" http://youtu.be/3kZ-gG4r0zI

    "don't assume everything on the surface is what you see"

    Great post and reminder Amber. Cheers! Kaarina

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  18.  Very true, Jack. We project our own issues onto others, don't we?

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  19.  Yes, we all have our struggles. And, speaking as a private person, I don't bring those to the water cooler with me.

    I guess it all means we should not be so quick to form negative opinions. We rarely have enough facts to do so.

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  20.  I'll check out the video. Thanks, Kaarina ;-)

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  21. A- you rock. good post and I am dying to see that movies... how was Pine in it? PS how was blogworld?

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  22. Todd! Woo you're back (and no weird spam anymore!)! I liked Pine in it. Actually wasn't familiar with him prior to this. And, BlogWorld was off the hook! Great time! Maybe you can come to the next one in Vegas ;-)
     

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