"We see things not as they are, but as we are."
The source of this quote is under debate, but that's not what I'm here to talk about. I want to talk about the essence of this quote. It's about skewed facts, it's about bias, it's about what we think about the truth. We don't see the world as it is. We see the world through the lens of who we are, the past we carry with us, the hopes we have for the future, and our here-and-now feelings. We think we're seeing the world as it is, that we're seeing the truth. But we're only seeing a version of the truth. Like the saying goes, when you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When we're carrying around past trauma and hopes for the future, we tend to interpret everything through that filter. Good or bad is defined not by things as they are, but as how we think things should be.
Two people can experience the same thing and have wildly different experiences. I'm sure we've all known this to happen at least once in our lives. Two people go to an event - concert, sporting event, bar, club, family meeting, etc - and sit right next to each other. One has a grand time while the other finds every moment an exercise in misery. But they sat right next to each other, and aside from very minor variables, had the same experience. Yet one thought it was great, the other terrible. It's because one saw it through their version of reality and the other saw it in theirs. Different hammers, different nails.
Every moment we are howling out who we are and how we are at the world around us. And what we see is based on what comes back. It may rebound back to as vibrant splendor or it may come back as inert horror. And that's all on you.
Of course there are real tragedies, things that we'd all consider objectively bad. But for most people, those events are few and far between. They're not often enough for the tragic or panicked lives that some of us lead. They're not responsible for the dusty halls of the dead museums some of us live in, every experience dismantled, tagged, and placed behind glass. While some of us walk a death march through the halls of hollow lives, some lives in the same spaces, free - or at least more free.
We are all photographers of life, except we are not taking still pictures and looking to frame the perfect shot, we are using our lives to frame the perfect moments. And we can frame experiences as better or worse. If you go looking to frame a beautiful world, you will find one. And if you go looking to frame an ugly world, you will find one.