Off the Line: What you see is not what you get

We’ve heard all the clichés: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, don’t judge a book by its cover, and many others.

We’ve heard all the clichés: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, don’t judge a book by its cover, and believe half of what you see andnone of what you hear.

Those clichés are, well, as old as the hills (yet another cliché, if you don’t mind). Gentle warning: I can see where this column is going andI suspect it is going to be peppered with clichés. As my family and friends can attest, I tend to take things a little too far at times.

Now, back to the column:

Such sayings (clichés) do have a certain amount of wisdom about them if one truly contemplates the words and doesn’t just simply listento them and then nod in agreement.

Every once in a while I am so lucky as to have the obvious pointed out to me. Sometimes, (pardon the cliché again) one can’t see theforest through the trees. Which is why looking beyond the obvious and contemplating the cliché in its whole is more intellectuallysatisfying rather than blithely and lazily accepting that which deserves further consideration.

I think we can all agree, and have likely found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a life lesson that clearly and painfully illustrates thatsometimes what you see is not always what you get.

The other day I was reading an interesting article which underlined that perfectly. Six photographers were asked to photograph a subject.They weren’t told much about the project except each photographer was told a different back story about the man they were about tophotograph. One photographer was told that the subject was a felon who was recently released from prison. One photographer was toldthat his subject was an alcoholic; another was told that he is a millionaire, while the remaining three believed him to be an ex alcoholic, apsychic, a lifesaver or a fisherman depending on what, precisely the photographer was told. The photographer went about his task ashappy as a clam.

What came about as a result of the experiment was a shocking visual display which underlines a deep crack in mankind’s character. Wetend to be judgmental, even if we try not to be. We marry our opinions with what is real and get a watered down and often skewed visionof what really is. It’s kind of looking through the base of a pop bottle you are seeing the same thing as everyone else in the room andyet you aren’t. Those pop bottle glasses have twisted the whole truth.

There in black and white with shades of gray dabbled here and there, was the evidence of such.

That ex-felon was unmistakable amongst the other shots of the psychic, millionaire and their other imagined buddies.

The picture reflected a brutal face, frightening to look upon.

Similarly, each man, depending on his back story, was reflected in his photograph. The man who helped saved someone’s life waspictured with a huge and open smile on his face. The millionaire exuded confidence and self-esteem.

In other words, as they photographed their subject according to what they had heard about them, so do we paint those we see or meetwith our very own palette. That picture then, that which we paint, is merely a reflection of our vision. It might, or might not be true toform. Conversely, it is up to the person viewing our “art” to not merely look at the surface, for what is underneath might be entirelydifferent.

As I write this, I am reminded of the many works of art we read about in which it is discovered that beneath the exterior is yet a truemasterpiece waiting to be discovered. All it required to be found was someone with an eagle eye to question the integrity of what theywere seeing.

Which brings me to my last cliché sometimes what you see is not always what you get.


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