The Importance of What We Don't See & Hear

I once saw an interview with an artist having smashing success. 

Critics, fans, even the most discerning of discerners loved her.

And she was a brilliant interview; smart, surprising, wickedly creative. 

To look at her, to listen to her, it could seem like she'd arrived at the public arena fully formed and ready to blow us all away. 

But that would be an impression of her based solely on what I could see and hear. 

What I couldn't see were the dark, wet mornings she showed up to make art, even though no one yet knew her name or paid her for her work.

I couldn't hear her sigh when the rejection emails came in.

I couldn't see her face when someone told her - for the umpteenth time - You can't make a living doing this; when will you get a real job?

I couldn't hear the sound of that piece she'd worked on for months banging into the trash can because she couldn't find a way to make it work. 

I often put a premium on what I can see and hear. It seems like the truth because I saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. And it is a truth. For that moment. But the whole truth of anyone's story lies beyond what we can know with our eyes and ears. 

We can easily take a few moments and assume a whole life from them. But no one person could ever be captured easily, or with assumption. 

So, when I'm tempted to compare, judge, or feel less-than, I tell myself: Don't sell this human being short. Her whole story is too expansive to be contained in what can only be seen and heard right now. 

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