Saturday evening in Asheville, Kashif and I sat on a brick wall, dangling our feet taking in life around us. A couple sat in a coffee shop across the way, a tear ran down the woman’s cheek as the man gestured with his hands, a tense expression on his face. Two men with long hair and tattoos played cards on a street bench. A young girl of about nine in a prim blue frock played violin on the street corner while her parents, partially hidden in the distance, snapped pictures as people shook their heads and dropped dollars at her feet.
Suddenly we were startled by a loud screech. A young man in a pale blue Rolls Royce convertible pulled up to parallel park in front of us. Three cars could comfortable fit in the space he now struggled to park in. Twice he nearly slammed his car into the Volkswagen behind him. So the rich don’t need to learn how to park? I thought. Two men, clearly homeless, approached the car. Loudly, jumping up down and waving their hands, they tried helping him back in. As he parked more men began surrounding his car. The sun was quickly setting and I grew alarmed. As I pressed my hand against my phone, one man with tattered khakis and a flannel shirt reached into the car. He pulled out a walker and placed it on the sidewalk; another opened the car door and a third helped him onto the curb. They promised to watch his car until he returned. The man smiled with a hint of sadness, and then with trembling legs, crossed the street.
It reminded me of a quote by Matthew Fox: One event can be perceived so differently by different people…It’s amazing to me how people can walk around thinking that the way that they see the world is the only way because it’s just not the truth.
I hope I will always remember this subtle lesson on perception.