Everyone knows the old saying, ‘Seeing is believing’, right? Well, that’s always bugged me a little. I mean, why should somebody have to see something (or someone) for themselves, personally, in order for them to believe (in) it? I think that maybe, because of how our brains and minds really work (based on the most modern scientific research in neurophysiology and social psychology), it might just be a bit more accurate to say, ‘Believing is seeing’ . . . . . .
Around 25 years ago, I was in a mall. No big deal, right? Well, that particular day, it was — at least to me. Something really new had just come out, something both fascinating and mysterious, something that I’d not only never seen before, but actually never even heard of existing, not even the concept! What was it, this totally novel idea and product? A poster. Actually, lots of them.
OK. Now you know for sure that this WaveRider guy is either wacked beyond repair, or was raised on a mink ranch in northern Siberia. But seriously, folks . . . . . This new genre of poster was one of those types – I don’t even remember the name (you can put it in the comments section to help me out here) – that, when you purposefully unfocus your eyes while looking at it, you see a completely different picture. What you actually have to do is focus your vision on a point far in front of the poster (or behind, I don’t remember) for the ‘real’ image to come into your visual consciousness. At first, it’s darn difficult to do. There are actually some people who never can ‘get’ how to change their focus at all, and so can never see the magic of the two completely unique images incorporated into one single work of art. And that is truly sad. . . . . Regardless, for those of us who do succeed at finally getting how to do it, it becomes like riding a bicycle, and quickly gets really easy and fun to do. They came out with entire books of these things after a while, and I just had to get one. Loads of cool stuff to see.
Soooooo, what does this have to do with the theme of this post? Weeeeelllllll, it’s like this: If nobody had ever told me that there was a second, completely different image buried in the very plain 2D image of the poster, I would have never known it, never even considered its existence. As a matter of fact, as I recall my first experience of these posters, I actually doubted the word of the person who told me that. I thought it might be a practical joke or something. ‘Hey, look at that guy crossing his eyes up and squinting, trying to see something that’s not even there! What an idiot! Ha-ha-ha,’ like that. Being the young, ‘open-minded’ type, though, I gave it a shot – and lo and behold, I saw it! After that first time, it got easier, and I was flabbergasted and blown away. Some of the ‘hidden’ images, the ‘out of focus’ art works, were not only totally three-dimensional in nature (in a 2D medium), but were so radically different than the ‘cover image’ that it was really, really hard to conceive of the same person — and the same marks on the same paper — creating it!
The other aspect of this art that fried my brain synapses was how astonishingly UNapparent the deeper, livelier, and inevitably more interesting second image was than the generally simple 2D one on the paper. I mean, how can that second image, that is always there right in front of my nose, stay so well hidden from view? Wild! Once the ‘technique’ is mastered, though, it gets to be quite an interesting game to play . . . . .
Now, let’s step back for a second or two. Imagine this scene: I walk up to the poster shop in the mall. It’s a day like any other. The sales guy tells me about these new, radical posters that just came out with this really cool ‘visual effect’, with this little devilish smile spread across his young, pimply face. He walks me over to one, explains how they ‘work’, and then gets me to try to ‘see’ the hidden image. I laugh. I look around the room. ‘OK, wise guy, where’s the hidden camera?’ I ask. He says, ‘No, sir, this thing is for real! Just use the simple technique I told you about, and you’ll see it, too!’ Disgusted, I leave the store as fast as I can, vowing never to go there again. ‘Hidden image my arse! Friggin’ jerk!’
What just happened? Simple. I didn’t believe the sales guy. That’s all. And because I didn’t believe his story – and was so darn stuck in my non-belief that I wasn’t even willing to try to see the ‘other image’ – I completely missed a really special opportunity to see some absolutely stunning art work that would have literally rocked my relatively mundane, boring world. What a loss! Thank the Universe that I did NOT miss that opportunity, that I DID believe the sales guy, that I therefore DID use the technique he taught me, and DID see the beautiful second images –and thereby experienced lots of fun and excitement and fascination about a ‘hidden reality’ that, though it was right in front of me the whole time, I never knew even existed. You see, because I had enough of a tiny spark of faith in humanity, and child-like desire and hope to experience something truly fresh and exciting, to at least check out the possibilities — in other words, a barely sufficient level of belief in what the salesman told me to take a tiny risk, a relatively miniscule leap of faith — with a little practice and guidance I was lavishly rewarded with being able to see another side of reality. Awesome! Oh, and as a direct result of my experience that afternoon, there was one little additional side-effect I joyfully noticed later: shopping malls were never the same for me again!
Believing IS seeing, folks. We’ve had it all bass-ackwards the whole time. I hope you don’t miss the grand opportunity now coming your way, one that makes my little trip to the mall that day seem truly, deeply, even tragically boring and uneventful by comparison. Happy ‘seeing’!