My song today is, ‘Sunny’. This is a soul-jazz song written by Bobby Hebb in 1963. It is one of the most performed and recorded popular songs, with hundreds of versions released. BMI rates ‘Sunny’ at Number 25 in its ‘Top 100 songs of the century’. It is also known by its first line: ‘Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain’. The song was covered by many groups including ‘Boney M’, one of the groups I enjoyed listening to during the late 1960s.
During the early 1960s, I spent a few years living in Canada. I had always known that somewhere along the meteorological spectrum that in any place where it has started raining, there was also a place along the meteorological continuum where it must have stopped raining. I knew this to be the case but not being able to be in two places at one time, I never expected to witness this phenomenon.
I had obviously failed to recognise that one didn’t need to be in two places at one time to witness such an event, but merely at the right place (where two different places could be simultaneously observed).
On the day in question, I came out of the hotel in Toronto, Canada where I worked as a desk clerk. It was around noon and it was sunny. I looked across the road as I bathed in the warm glow of the sun and was amazed to see a crowd of people scurrying for shelter as it started to rain down heavily on the pedestrians on the sidewalk. I recall laughing at being fortunate for being on the ‘sunny side of the street’ during this rainstorm. This was the only occasion in my life that I have ever witnessed such a meteorological phenomenon.
I have, however, witnessed its allegorical representation on many occasions during my 77 years of life. I have often seen within the same look (on an identical time, date, and place), two entirely opposing sets of experiences in respect of similar life events.
Surely, you must have wondered from time to time how two people can share a similar set of circumstances and yet experience two opposing sets of results (emotional consequences). You will notice that I do not describe the seemingly same circumstances as being ‘identical’, and therein lies the human conundrum of why humans respond so differently to similar events(note that I say ‘events’ and not ‘experiences’).
I have long known that no person experiences ‘seemingly similar events’ the same as another. I have long known that we each perceive similar sets of circumstances differently. Take the bereavement of a loved one for example; no two people will experience (emotionally process) such a sad event in the same way. One bereaved person losing a parent may not stop crying for days, whereas another person (who is just as sad at their loss of a parent) may not feel able to cry at all.
Take, for instance, two people, both of whom are informed by the same consultant that they have been diagnosed as having the same type of terminal illness. In such circumstances, it is not unusual (and could realistically be said to be expected) for each individual to respond entirely differently. Such variance in our approaches and responses to every situation we ever encounter is uniquely peculiar to ourselves, and is governed and determined exclusively by ‘our belief-our expectations- our previous experiences- how we use and interpret our senses- our current experience and what we tell ourselves about that which we have just encountered (our self-talk).
I long since learned in my role as a Behaviourist Worker with problematic clients, about the human distinction which enables one person to respond entirely differently to an event in their life when compared to the response of another person in a similar situation. What defines the precise nature of any person’s response is how they see what they are looking at, how they hear what is said to them, how they feel when they touch something/someone or somebody touches them, what they smell when they sniff at something/someone, how they interpret the spoken words of another or what they tell themselves (their self-talk).
Our senses, and how we interpret our senses, determine whether we find something pleasurable or distasteful, harmful or safe, hurtful or soothing, threatening or challenging, repulsive or inviting (or any other opposing set of perceptions and experiences). How we interpret our senses and what we tell ourselves about the events which impact our body will determine the qualitative value of our experiences. It will determine whether we are happy or sad or experience any emotion in between through what we encountered.
Imagine being able to place oneself at precise equidistance to both opposing experiences. Such is a fact of life. As we each walk down the middle of the street, we might find it grey in the middle, and sunny on one sidewalk but raining on the other sidewalk.
Ironically, our lives tend to be filled with more 'grey' days as opposed to 'sunny' or 'rainy' ones. The true distinction between an 'optimist' and a 'pessimist' is that the optimist will be more likely to perceive more sunlight coming through the clouds of a grey day, while all that the pessimist expects to come out of the grey clouds they encounter is an outburst of rain!
We each possess the power to decide which side of the street we choose to cross over to and walk on! Whether we choose to cross over to the sunny side of the street or cross over to the rainy side depends entirely on how we use, interpret, and experience our senses and encounters within our daily lives. Alternately, we can stay rational in everything we ever do or use the kind of rationale (our reasoning and beliefs) which maintain our hope, enhance our health and increase our happiness experienced. The choice is yours!
Love and peace Bill xxx