Essay, Reflections

The “I” of the Beholder…

So, lately I’ve found myself wrestling with a recurrent dilemma: the nature of interpretation. I’ve wondered sometimes about the nature of “what is real?,” especially when compared to how others interpret the same information. But lately…

I don’t know. I go back and read what I write (which oddly, I discovered, counts as a “view” on WordPress, thus falsely inflating my stats…lol!), and I remember what I was thinking and feeling when I wrote it. Sometimes it is so absolutely clear to me! And then I read the comments, and I wonder, “Is that what I said?” Sometimes the answer is obviously “no,” as a reader literally appears to put words in my mouth; other times I look again with new eyes and see something I had not known I wrote. Intriguing really, to wonder if my subconscious was creeping in with an alternative view, or if my Higher Self found a way to insert itself into my conscious ramblings, so as to add a new dimension to my work…

Either way, it highlights the dichotomy between intent and interpretation, something I have already devoted more than one post to. I have even gone so far as to apologize for what I felt was a failure to communicate on my part. And I have engaged in multiple conversations with others recently about this very theme. It appears to be something that truly matters to me, so here I am exploring it again. Why? Because I believe I have had an epiphany that I truly want to share. How you interpret that is clearly up to you…

Take this painting, for example…


Tears 0f a Mother” (Acrylic on canvas)

Original artwork by K. Raguso

Used with permission

Recently, while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came upon this picture by a young artist, newly recognized. Chosen as one of the 100 best paintings from among 12,000 entries, it is obvious the artist has amazing talent! But aside from noting the technical proficiency, which is excellent, I had an incredibly emotional reaction to it. Many of you are aware that I have an affinity for trees and animals, so viewing this painting was much like watching those commercials on abused animals, which I consciously choose not to do, precisely because of the fact that it is emotionally devastating, and merely reminds me of the cruelty of humans, and my helplessness to change them. So the shock of seeing this picture, and the emotion it conveys, led me to burst instantly into tears.

When the crying jag subsided enough for me to actually look at the picture again, I was assaulted by a whole new range of emotions, including fear, urgency, and hope. That roller coaster ride forced me to engage my thinking side in an attempt to understand my reaction. When my brain finally wrested the upper hand from my heart, I interpreted the work in this manner…

Please keep in mind that I am no art critic. While I love to play with colors, I have no true ability to create “realism” in art. My gift is in words, and words take longer to express, needing to build up, each upon the other until true “meaning” is achieved, whereas visual, musical and performance art captures a moment, pure and complete. Therefore, any attempt to “wordify” art is bound to make it seem much more complicated than intended. Still, I believe that complexity exists in the work, based solely upon my reaction to it, whether it was consciously “intended” as such by the artist or not. Which, after all, is the point of this post…

So… back to the picture. Take a moment to look at it before reading further, as I want you to own your own reactions first. It is not my desire to influence your interpretation, but rather to highlight the interpretation process itself…

When my tears cleared, the first thing I noticed was that the animals were North American species. For whatever reason, when I’d seen that it was about deforestation, I naturally shifted my center of seeing to tropical locales, but that is clearly not the case.  Even the trees are pine and fir, native to my own country, placing the “tragedy of deforestation” smack in the middle of my own back yard! That brings it home to me on a whole new level, including a sense of urgency I am frequently trying to deny. The Bear I associate with Mother Protector energies, a fierce warrior defending home and family, a guide to inner realms of experience; but the bear in the picture appears as defeated as I often feel. The Stag is an interesting contrast, appearing more comfortable and confident, which I find curious; normally deer would symbolize gentleness, and the stag a calling to journey into other realms and places. But this stag isn’t going anywhere, seemingly content to stay, which I find quite intriguing and enlightening. And then I noticed the bird…

At first I thought it was a Cardinal, in keeping with the North American theme, representing the need to be ourselves, to “let our Light shine through.” But after staring at it a while, it occurred to me that in flight, it appeared more as a Macaw to me, a geographic anomaly in contrast to the other animals; to unite the plight of all the world’s forests, I wondered? Then I was reminded of a recent post I read about a Phoenix , and I saw it clearly in the bird; a glimmer of hope that we might still rise from the ashes of our self-destruction into a “better” world. (The Phoenix post was written by kameamoonmaiden here on WordPress. I still haven’t worked out my links kinks, so please find her, if you’re so inclined, as she has some beautiful wisdom to share!) When I asked about the bird, I was told, “it’s just a red bird.” Hmm… Hence the power of interpretation…

And, in keeping with a mind that analyzes far too much sometimes, I reminded myself that both the Mother Goddess and the Father God of the Christian mythos have tripartite forms, so why can’t this bird be all three forms at once? In which case, it actually would be “just a red bird,” a sacred trinity of red birds, actually. And in running down that path of thinking to avoid what I was feeling, I totally missed the fact, at first, that the bird is flying above and slightly left of center, the place of our Heart (uh duh, Lisa!)…

The message for me? Yes, we are self-destructing as a species, and much is being forever lost; there is cause to grieve. But with the power of Love, and a unified effort, more urgent now than ever, we have hope still of creating a world we can all live in peacefully. And the work belongs to All of us, each in our own way; the messages are out there, if we but heed them. But it matters not (so much) how the message is delivered, but rather how it is received; intentions of the “speaker” aside, the true message is what “I” see.

Consider this… Unfamiliar with the “message” of Macaw, having never had any real interactions with one, I reached for a familiar source of insight: Animal-Speak Pocket Guide by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing, 2009). On page 27, I found this: “Macaw (trust perceptions) – Trust your sharp vision and spirit perception, especially in regards to health issues. Trust perceptions, no matter how strange.” Yeah… I think I got that message…

The point of all this? Put your truths out there, people, in whatever medium best suits your voice; then let them go. The value of what we share is not in communicating our exact intent, but rather in inciting someone else to interpret what they most need to know. Beauty may well reside in the eye of the beholder, as we have all been taught, but Truth resides in the “I” of the Interpreter…


14 thoughts on “The “I” of the Beholder…

      • Thanks Lisa, glad to be of help.
        As long as the writer is not one of those creatures which peddle either hate, ignorance or cruel abusive exploitation never question the worth of writing. Put it out there, let the resonances and the ripples flow in everywhichway. You have a pen (ok keyboard), you have a voice, soar and sing for the sheer glory of it.
        (Listening to Shearwater at the moment- do like that band! Inspirational)

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Sharing the truth of percieving and forming an understanding is such an important truth to share. Sharp vision is one of our greatest gifts for penetrating into the meaning of this reality! Too readily dulled in this loud world of ours. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow Lisa, this is trenchant. You speak of interpreting realities, of hope. In all ancient writings dealing with “end times” there is always a remnant after the downfall, disaster and massive die-back. That’s nature’s way. These animals know this. In the destruction their bodies will die but they have already anchored in the future. By the way, that future I have seen in visions. Of course that is one interpretation of an infinite choice. But it’s mine and it’s the one I’m working with. According to “me” as I’ve seen it a thousand years from now, the earth will have been renewed, it’s life will be back, re-seeded, re-planted, rejuvenated in pristine natural wilderness. One very significant difference: there are no Earthians (the current type of pseudo humans) on it anymore. No, we’re not all dead and gone, but we’ve made a deal of payback with the earth. She gets her life back and we leave her. At the time I speak of, all of the remnant of man, mankind and related species, including disembodied spirit life, the embodied ones counting at 1.5 billions, are living in archeologies, a kind of pseudo-untopias based in remaining 12 of man’s ancient cities. These are enclosed in energy fields, cut-off completely from the planet. They are equipped with an “alien” technology that gives them the capacity to lift off and take space flight, which is the decision that has reached consensus when I left the vision. So a whole new adventure begins: we are going to leave earth and find another, or other, places where to start again, try again, to be better managers. Leaving out the details of how this came about and how it is accomplished, the point is, according to that one scenario, we have to make amends and the earth rejects us in the end. We get to survive as a species and we get a chance to re-invent ourselves into creatures that really do care about others and learn how to manage having too much mental power. In other words, our interim tribulations have begun to change us into empathetic creatures… finally!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing so personal a vision, Sha’Tara. I saw it through your eyes as I read the words (you’re really good at projecting that way, by the way!)… Gentler tears of joy slid down my cheeks, replacing the sobs that escape when I look at this picture and so many like it.

      Hope is a powerful tool, especially when interpreting anything, if only because it still allows us to change. I suspect it was no “accident” that Hope was also imprisoned with all the world’s worst ills in Pandora’s Box… 🙂


  3. thezenofbeingblog says:

    Love this: “The value of what we share is not in communicating our exact intent, but rather in inciting someone else to interpret what they most need to know.” Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As per your usual perceptiveness, you have zeroed in on the central theme precisely… I love watching you do that! Like a distiller of fine spirits, you have the ability to boil down all the extraneous noise and extract the essence of a work… It is impressive and inspiring, and I feel so validated when we agree, though it takes me a lot longer to get there… lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In my readings and a fanatic of the sort, in which JRR Tolkien and the ones before him advocated and voiced so much in their materials. That which all manner of technology will always “unintentional ‘murder'” of natural resources. I am reminded a real direct reference in “Fellowship of the ring”; where saruman was so intent and influenced by Sauron to wipe and use all his resources to make ‘his army. If that reference does not give us mankind to see what is always being done, then the only thing to do is, we of the sort pray for the generations to come or do something now.

    Liked by 1 person

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