My wife Blu talks about her ‘Snowflake Theory’, which is a way of saying that everyone is different, and so everyone perceives differently. My version of this is when I bitch about how clueless the Founding Fathers were with all that crap about ‘self-evident truth’, ‘cos there ain’t no such thing.
If I imagine a whole string of people- a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, a grandmother, a three year old child, the tinker, tailor, soldier and spy- all standing on a street in a city at war. I can see a car full of of people drive up a side street, right in front of this group of folks, who all turn to look at it. In that moment, the car explodes- a bomb perhaps, - it doesn’t really matter- and the car is destroyed, along with all it’s occupants. Nine witnesses.
There will be to a greater or lesser extent, nine different recollections of the event. And nine different ‘long term effects’ from it. Some will have PTSD, some will turn to drink. Some may have nightmares for a week, and some for a lifetime. One might become a solider, one a doctor, one a nun. One may only remember it for a year, and then it’s gone.
This is true for ‘good’ experiences, too. The same, fabulous, lovely thing happens to those nine witnesses, and again, there will be nine responses. This is culture, nature, nurture, proclivity, pathology. But there will be nine different responses. And nine different stories, or explanations of what happened. The meaning will shift over time in different ways as well.
Now let us move to a more ‘peculiar’ example. A person dreams of a visitation by a being- seen as a man in a black suit, with onyx black eyes and black hair and beard. His gaze bores into our dreamers mind, and our sleeper awakes. If again, I give this dream to our nine witnesses (who are getting quite the run of experiences!) I of course will find nine different responses. One is terrified, another intrigued. One believes she has met an angel, another the Devil. The one who ‘saw’ the angel might take this as a good sign, or bad -just like the one who saw the Devil. Either might become a priest or a witch in response. Or just forget it. Dreams pass. One has actively studied Witchcraft and KNOWS she has met the Man in Black. One has no such exposure, and only realizes that this is what happened 20 years later.
Thus it is with all things, for all the beautiful snowflakes. And there is no escaping it. We are context driven beings, and we make context as needed to manage our experiences.
I find this strangely comforting.