Why Do We See What We See?


Last Friday, my friend Norman flew in to town from back East. I picked him up at LAX and by the time we got back to my place it was 11:30 p.m. As he was settling in, the phone rang. The caller ID indicated it was the building’s front door intercom.

Since I wasn’t expecting anyone, I presumed the person hit the wrong button. Moments later, the phone rang again. My New York instincts kicked into high gear and I refused to answer. This time, though, a man started to leave a message. He sounded drunk when he said he was “Roger” and was looking for Norman.

Norman started babbling that he’d reconnected with Roger on Facebook and when he learned they’d be in L.A. at the same time, he gave him my address.


It’s now after midnight and I’m beyond annoyed. As we head to the lobby, Norman announces he’s heard from friends that Roger has a drinking “problem.” OMG, now I’ve got a Friday night drunk on my hands.

I enter the lobby and there, standing outside the glass front doors, is Roger with a goofy smile, holding a cake box and “Happy Birthday” bag. Ugh! He’s come from a party and probably wants to continue at my place.

As I open the door, Roger grins and says, “Hi! How ya doin’?” I can’t see Norman and am annoyed he’s not taking charge. Roger just stands there and again says “hi.”

Finally, Norman grabs my arm and laughingly yells, “It’s Anthony!” Huh? Turns out, “Roger” was my friend Anthony — and I didn’t recognize him even though he didn’t disguise himself. I hadn’t seen him in a year; he had longer hair, and a scruffy look, but, I didn’t recognize him and I’ve known him for half my life!

The two of them had hatched this scheme to surprise me, although neither had imagined I wouldn’t recognize Anthony. The ultimate surprise was on them!

I’m still stunned as I write this and unnerved, as during these past days I’ve reflected on the question — what do we really see of reality? Why do we see what we see and don’t see what we don’t see?

Yes, I was tired, but I hadn’t been drinking. I wasn’t expecting Anthony since I was looking for “Roger.” In an agitated state, I went to the entry door looking for a drunk and that’s whom I saw! I saw what I wanted to see.

Ever since, I’ve been thinking about what influences and what distorts my vision of “reality.” My vision is never whole for the truth is, we see what we look for — in people, situations, and life.

So what are you looking for?

Please send your questions to JP Reynolds at: jp@jpr-communications.com

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