Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Girl's Point On View...

In the cold wind-blustered streets of the metropolis, a matchbox girl approaches you slowly, shyly with small steps shuffling in your direction. Being kind hearted (as you are, aren't you?) you slow to stop, comfort the matchbox girl with a smile and reach for your moneybag. As the girl reaches you, you see her little face, world-weary yet with the still blossoming softness of youth. You begin to ask, "How much for a box, my dear?" getting only as far as "How..." before she snaps a match along her matchbox, lighting it, its small warm glow reflecting the heart of its bearer, both puny against the winter chill.

It strikes you as odd that the girl, whose comfort depends on wasting not that precious commodity, might strike up a match for a complete stranger but her next question draws your thoughts away.

"Sir, what colour do you see?"

You see the orange of flame and the blue of complete combustion. You see the blackness of the soot rising against the paleness of the white buildings that surround you. You see the oily brown of the matchstick. You tell her so, quite bemused by the raggedly adorable child staring at you with questioning eyes. And the child speaks again.

"Sir, are the colours you see the same as those that I see?"

That is the girl's point on view. Is the blue you see the same colour as she sees? Perhaps she sees what you would call red but by convention calls it "blue". Perhaps her orange is your purple and your brown her green. In that case only by convention are they the same colour.
Perplexed and embarassed to be so troubled by that innocent question, you forcefully reach for you coins and drag out twice the cost of 5 boxes of matches. Staring her in the eye, you open your hands into hers and close her tiny fingers over the coins. A mass larger than her cupped palms can comfortably hold.

"Get yourself something warm, girl," you say, "I have no answer for you this day."

She looks on at you in wonder and gratitude. Perhaps fearful you might change your mind, she laughs happily and runs as only a child can run. For now, in her mind the world is all right.

And yet yours is all topsy-turvy.

You stroke the new bristle at your chin and wonder. Do we all see the same colours? When I look in the mirror, do I see what others see when they look upon me? Might I maybe look like a rock and yet be recognisably me to the other people around me?

Is the world I see the same world that you see? Perception and interpretation tie together in a dead knot of reason. What we see is what we interpret. What we interpret is what we see. Would that you could all see the world as I do that we might understand each other better.

Is the world I see the same world that you see?

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