Decades ago, my young family and I were on a little holiday in upper New York State with my parents. I'm not sure why or exactly where, but we found ourselves in a mall.
I think we were contemplating life over ice cream cones when I saw a man holding hands with a teenage girl. I thought how nice it was to see a father and a daughter of that age holding hands. Within a second or so, I was shocked to hear my mother exclaim her disgust at the very same sight. Her interpretation: a dirty middle-aged man was involved with a pretty young thing.
We had both seen the same thing but, without thinking deeply, leapt to radically different conclusions. I rather suspect that I was right, but admit that there's a small chance that she was. There was no use discussing it with her though because her mind was made up. Actually, I was too flabbergasted to pursue it with her at all — then or ever.
We tend to blame people such as my mother who see the world negatively, but I suppose that in a very real sense they can't help it. I also suppose, however, that some negatively-inclined folk might become disposed to work on how they perceive the world. I do believe that, with therapy or even personal recognition of their propensity towards negativism, there are those who would choose make an effort to alter their perceptions. Such possibilities would have been beyond my mother, but I remain optimistic that some can and do change.
Nevertheless, I think it's also true that we all have natural dispositions, and while some of us tend to view the world through rose-coloured glasses, others see it as a threatening place. And I don't know why that is. Is it simply nurture? Is it upbringing that changes people? But don't we find that siblings from the same family may view the world differently? I know that even siblings closely related in years are not brought up exactly the same way, but surely it can't be all that different either. Or can it?
Nature and nurture. Who can figure it out?
Meanwhile, I think I'll continue to enjoy my somewhat more positive way of looking at the world. I may not exactly be wearing rose-coloured glasses, but at least I tend toward the positive. I think that's good because they say that perception is reality after all.
With a nod to Pearl of Humanyms. This memory and these futile musings were triggered by her account of her and her mother reacting very differently to a situation.