Steve McEllistrem

The Devereaux Dilemma

Perception is Everything

Perception is everything – more important than reality. Let me explain. You can be the nicest person in the world, saving puppies and babies and donating all your worldly goods to saving the planet, but if others think you’re a jerk, then you’re a jerk.

You can have evil thoughts all day long, you can steal and kill and commit barbarous atrocities against the helpless, but if others think you’re a nice person, then you’re a nice person.

“So what?” you say. “I know I’m a good person. I know the reality. I know the truth. Ergo, reality is more important than perception.”

But do you really grasp the truth? Do you in fact understand reality? Maybe you understand yourself. Maybe extensive examination of your thoughts, motivations and emotions has led you to a level of self-awareness that many of us in the modern world have not achieved. Or maybe you just think you understand yourself.

When you do something nice for someone else, are you acting completely altruistically? Or does some part of you want the recognition that you were good at this point in time, that you did something for someone else? It’s okay if that’s the case because you’ve still done something good, regardless of the reason. But it bolsters the case that perception is more important than reality.

But even more basically, perception is how we experience the world.

The reality is that none of us ever touch anything or anyone else. The atoms in our fingers (all the atoms that make up who we are) never actually come into contact with the atoms of the chairs we sit in or the lovers we caress or the guns we fire. There is always a minute distance remaining – a separation between us and every other thing around us.

When we experience the sensation of touch, that’s our brains telling us we’re touching other things – that’s the perception of touch. And it’s not just touch – it’s all our senses.

What we hear, what we see, what we smell is all subject to our brains’ interpretation of that sensory input. And none of us are perfect. That’s why magic acts work on us. We believe we’re seeing one thing when in fact something else is happening. Ever wake up at night and see a strange, scary shape that turns out to be a clothes tree or a sweater draped across a chair or some equally inoffensive item?

We all experience sensory input our brains interpret as one thing even as the reality proves it to be something else.

My point is, nothing in this world is precisely as it seems. Nothing is completely knowable or certain. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make assumptions about the world or each other – just that we need to be prepared to be surprised when things don’t always happen exactly like we believe they will.

And isn’t that world more fun, after all?


book 3 in the Susquehanna Virus series

book 3 in the Susquehanna Virus series

Comments are closed.