Tattoos and Views

My Girlfriend doesn’t like my tattoo. Not that she has anything against tattoos in general; she just doesn’t like this specific one. (In fact, I have two, and the second one doesn’t bother her in the least). It’s high enough on my shoulder that it’s only visible when I choose for it to be. The offending ink is a heart bleeding from four pieces broken off. When I had it done it was to represent my four ex-wives each taking a bit of my heart. But there is plenty of heart left. In fact, the four broken pieces combined are only about 25% of the whole.   Failed relationships may have broken my heart for a time, but I’ve yet to be broken beyond love.

That’s not how she sees it however.

To her, it’s a memorial of all my ex-wives.

She doesn’t really have a problem that I’ve been married so many times. She herself has several under her belt, and completely understands how these things happen. It is evident to her that there has been tremendous growth on both our parts regarding relationships, and we are in complete agreement that no matter what happens, neither of us wants to remarry. Still, she doesn’t like being reminded. She’s not an inappropriately jealous person, but nobody wants to think of their partner being with someone else. If you’re realistic you’ll acknowledge it, but not dwell on it; and certainly not imagining specifics. I’m totally on board with that. I don’t like thinking about her being with any of her former partners either.

But that’s really not what my tat is about. For me, the focus is on the heart remaining. But for her, it’s about my ex’s.

It’s just how you look at things.

That’s really true for just about everybody, isn’t it? Everybody is going to have their own views and perspectives about everything. Seeing the Mona Lisa is going to affect everyone in a unique way. It could be anywhere from disliking it, to indifference, to being moved to tears. A personal favorite of mine is a painting by Edward Hopper that’s in the Chicago Art Institute called Nighthawks. It depicts a period of history that I have always been interested in. There is an air of quiet desperation and sadness. Not that I’m trying to be morbid or moody, but there has been enough of that desperation in my life that I identify with this painting. My girlfriend couldn’t care less about it.

Politics is another example. There is a very wide gap between the extreme left wing and right wing parties. They can have vastly different agendas, the programs they support are different and how it’s paid for out of the Government Treasury (and where the money comes from into the Treasury) is night and day. As you move towards the middle the lines between the two start to blur. You may support some of the same programs, but disagree how it’s to be funded. Or you could agree on funding, but have different purposes for it’s use. And so forth and so on.

And none of them are wrong. It’s a perspective.

Perspectives are based on so many different factors and influences that develop over a lifetime. They start developing from the moment of birth, and change and grow the rest of your life. What was that book? “All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten”. That’s sort of true I think, but in my opinion it should be more like “All I really needed to know I learned BY Kindergarten”. How a baby is treated from the beginning can shape an entire lifetime. Some parents (One or both) may be nurturing and loving. Sometimes the care is so extreme that it’s actually harmful; picking up a baby every time it cries for example. That behavior can teach one that if you whine and cry, you can get what you want. Even as an adult; the whining and crying just takes on a different form. A parent’s personality is a part of it too, as is the way they were raised.

Our basic personality is created in the formative years; 0 to 5 years old.

As you grow, you start to have your own experiences, and even though others are also experiencing the same thing, many factors are responsible for different points of view. Growing up in the Western US is going to provide a view that is totally apart from someone who grows up on the East Coast. A child of a farmer sees a much different life from one whose parents are big city executives. Specific events such as a horrific automobile accident or illness can have an impact. My first wife had been in such an accident when she was 8 years old. She had a few very faint scars right at the hairline of her scalp, but she was fanatical about keeping her bangs combed over her forehead, even though it really didn’t cover anything that was visible. She was terrified to drive even one mile over the speed limit, and insisted on driving herself everywhere.

I’ve never been in an accident like that, and it was difficult for me to understand.

And then there is the physical aspect of a personality. The dominant side of the brain controls whether you are creative and artistic, or logical and scientific. Everybody has a different level of intelligence. It may stem from a birth event such as having the cord cutting off oxygen flow during delivery. A traumatic injury can be a factor. Or there may be a high or low level of intelligence for no discernible reason. It’s just how the brain is built. A more intelligent person is going to have a deeper understanding of complex issues which is going to be vastly different from how someone with a low IQ is going to have.

And even people with the same IQ are going to have differences of opinions.

Body chemistry is another factor. How your body produces serotonin or dopamine impacts pervasive moods. Illnesses such as epilepsy, diabetes or MS can impact a point of view. Even something as simple as how a body metabolizes vitamins can be an influence. If you don’t absorb Vitamin B12 for example, it can cause sadness or even depression.

Ah yes; Depression.

Mood disorders are by and large unexplainable. There is a physical element, an environmental element and a basic personality one, just to name a few.

The point is, even with some shared experiences or backgrounds every single life has a unique set of circumstances that brings them to this particular moment in time. Even though you think you might empathize with someone because of you’ve been in the same position, how you got there can be vastly different, and may be (usually is) experienced in its own way. The series of events, the order in which they happen, and how it’s all perceived brings us all to our own viewpoint.

So what does it all mean?

Let’s use Bipolar disorder as an example. (Surprise!)

How someone who is afflicted with this illness can bring feelings of confusion, especially if undiagnosed. There can be anger, isolation, fear, and total despair for their life. There is often bitterness and a feeling of unfairness, and even shame that comes with the illness. It can be a horrible experience.

This can be totally different from someone who loves a person who is bipolar. They may be frustrated from wanting to help and not being able to. Or the frustration could come from their loved one refusing to get help or follow a treatment plan. It’s frequent that the consequences of behaviors are left for them to deal with. Pain and even abuse may have to be endured. Even if sympathetic, the effects of the illness are going to shape their experiences.

And if you have no direct involvement with this illness? It depends on your level of knowledge, personality, and exposure. One with bipolar could just be considered crazy, or a victim, or not even considered at all.

Perspectives are unique. We are who we are as a result of what we’ve been through. There is no way to truly comprehend another’s position; the way they got there is theirs alone. You can never really understand. Nor can you be understood by anyone else. True, it’s possible to identify and agree with the opinions and feelings of others, but it’s still as a result of your own personal journey. We are all unique, just like everybody else.

That gives us all a choice.

Opinions, viewpoints, and principles can be strictly adhered to with no exception. Others who don’t agree with you are just flat out wrong. It’s my way or the highway. Or, there could be a lack of conviction for anything. No opinion is an opinion; it’s just based on nothing. Then there is tolerance and acceptance. You don’t have to agree, you can even be strongly opposed to another point of view; but you can agree to disagree. There can be a recognition that everybody is different and did not get where they are by the same path as they did. Personally, I strive to embrace the quote of Evelyn Beatrice Hall. To paraphrase just a little, “I disagree with what you think, but will defend to the death your right to think it”.

That’s my opinion anyway.

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