Recently, after a lazy morning, my partner and I decided to go for an afternoon stroll. We were walking through an open field when I looked up and saw one magpie. In a frenzy I saluted the magpie, not taking my eye of the black and white bird, willing for another one to appear by its side at any moment. After a few seconds of scanning and no second magpie in sight I proceeded my ritual, ‘‘hello Mr Magpie….’’ This was, of course as I presumed everyone knew, in order to avoid the ‘bad luck’ a single magpie symbolises.
When I stopped to look back at my partner, who looked more than confused, I realised he had no idea what or why I had just saluted and wished this bird a good day. To him the magpie was simply that, a magpie, a bird perched on a branch enjoying the afternoon as we were. For me a single magpie represents something completely different. For as long as I can remember my mum has always saluted single magpies and wished them a good day, naturally this became normalised to me in my world and I have continued to do the same thing.
The thing is, no two people have lived exactly the same experiences, therefore our perceptions of certain things will no doubt differ. Perception is powerful. It’s our experiences, upbringings, community, surroundings that shape our perception. It’s a tool that ultimately affects what, how and why we can sometimes view the same things differently and what influences the way we view things.
There is definitely wrong and right in life. There’s also a grey area in which opposing views and the way we view things will blur. As long as we all have empathy or at least understand that our worlds are shaped differently around the edges, I believe, we will better equipped to live in a more harmonious environment.
‘‘Everyone gets an asterisk’’ he said to me as the magpie flew off into the distance. Those four words will stay with me for life. It’s a very visceral metaphor for all of us. We all have footnotes and a bit more information that’s not always given or noticed on the surface. When we struggle to understand someone else’s point of view, or perhaps their actions or believes, find the asterisk and read the small print. It may reveal more that you think.