Relationships, Part 22: The Thing in Itself

I have an object in my office, nailed to the wall, it looks like this:

 photo_1[1]

“What is this object?” I ask.

Most people would say it’s a fly.

“OK, why do I have a fly nailed to my wall?”

“It must be a joke,” most say. “Fly on the Wall, get it?”

“Is it really a fly?”

“No, it’s not really a fly. It’s a brass object made to look like one.”

If I take the brass object made to look like a fly down, put it on a table, and open it up, it looks like this:

 photo_2[1]

“Now, what is this object?”

It becomes evident that it’s actually an ashtray. But, most people struggle with this awareness because they had already categorized the object as a fly.

“Why would a person have an ashtray?”

“They’d need an ashtray if they smoked, but I guess you don’t, or you used to, so now you don’t need an ashtray, so you put it up on the wall as a joke.”

They’re right, it is a joke. It’s also an object lesson I use sometimes to point out the difference between the thing in itself and the labels and stories we attach to them.

We are very quick to attach labels and stories, not only to brass objects, but to everything else, including people, including ourselves. But, because we are so quick, we are often wrong, or incomplete.

In the last few posts, we’ve been looking at some powerful myths and psychological processes that get in the way of seeing our partners the way they are. It pays to not be so attached to labels and stories. It’s important to always go back to the thing in itself and to be open to seeing it in a new way.

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

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