(A pi-spective is where you write about something in 314 words)
At its simplest, a telescope is an instrument used to observe remote objects. Images of Galileo, tubes on tripods and stargazing come to mind when we think of telescopes.
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn tells me that I'm the average of the five people I spend the most time with. Which seems to be a reasonable proposition. Even though some people take the idea too far.
A friend remarked to me that we use people as telescopes. We look at the past and distant places through their eyes. We learn about the lives of our grandparents through their stories. We discover what it is like in other countries through the people we follow on Instagram.
But like the early lenses ground by Hans Lippershey, people make imperfect observations. In many cases we see what we want to see. We see what we expect to see. We see what we believe to be true.
If my grandfather is mired in grief or nostalgia, do I see his young self clearly? If my Instagram field is dominated by narcissists, do I see other countries clearly? I think not.
So I am the average of the five telescopes I most often use to look at the world. Because no one sees themselves clearly, we rely on the perspectives of others. So I don't just see the world imperfectly through my five telescopes, but my view of myself is equally cloudy.
We might seek to get a better set of telescopes so that we may see the world or ourselves better. But are we simply choosing instruments that show the world as we want to see it? If I am overweight, will recalibrating my scales help me lose weight?
If I'm smart about it, I will seek out five quite different telescopes. They still won't see the world clearly. But I might have a better chance at seeing myself.
Image by Daniel Santalla via StockSnap