Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Adventures in anamorphosis

Several months ago, I started writing a blog entry about a startlingly similar situation to the one in which I found myself earlier this week. I was suffering terribly, feeling very sorry for myself and actually being racked by a neurotic degree of self-doubt and defeatism. Fortunately, however, I received what could be described as a priceless little gift from the infinite: a glimmer of enlightenment that spurred me to re-examine my tribulations from a completely different point of view.

Upon doing so, I was struck by some powerful realisations. Firstly, it occurred to me that several of the troubles I was so upset about were actually blessings in disguise -- for example, by having my comfort zone stripped away in one instance, I was forced to take action and solve problems that I had become apathetic about. Secondly, I was reminded that the overwhelming majority of my difficulties were directly caused by my own decisions, which also meant that it was within my own power to overcome these obstacles.

My mood immediately rose from sulky and pissed off to happy, excited and motivated -- an improvement which catalysed the most important epiphany of all. I was shaken to the core when I realised that the actual circumstances of my life had not changed in the slightest -- the only difference was that I had started thinking about the situation from a completely new angle.

As a direct consequence of the change in perspective, a reliable path by which I could negotiate these challenges -- in other words, the way to solve the problems that they had previously appeared to be -- came into sharp focus. It felt like I had applied a colour filter to a cacophony of seemingly meaningless hues and shapes, thus causing them to suddenly arrange themselves into a sensible map with a clearly defined route to my destination.

This reinforced my existing belief that perception is like a filter through which all experiences reach one’s consciousness. This filter can be virtually transparent, but it can also obscure, distort, or enhance what passes through it. Most importantly, by making a deliberate choice about one’s point of view, it is possible to exert a degree of control over one’s perception, in much the same way as turning a polarising filter can dramatically alter the balance of colour and light in a photograph.

Another benefit of shifting one’s vantage point is that it can add an extra dimension to what is perceived. A simple analogy for this is the technique of anamorphic perspective in artwork, as seen in both renaissance classics such as The Ambassadors and contemporary street art. This technique involves rendering an image that is incomprehensibly distorted unless viewed from a single, crucial angle -- which simultaneously ‘unscrambles’ it into a recognisable object, and creates the illusion that it is a three-dimensional form.

In a very similar way, examining the details of daily reality from a different point of view can reveal so much new information that it is possible to transform one’s entire approach to life. It is rare for a single thought to bring about such sweeping changes, but in my own experience, all it takes is a single snowflake of clarity to set an avalanche in motion.

And the power to ride that avalanche, to take control of how we see our lives and to make our own rules about how reality is filtered by our perception, is completely within our grasp.