Life unfiltered – looking through different lenses


The lens we look through will determine what we see.
Renee Swope

I often encourage people to intentionally focus on a particular perspective by having them consider an idea or a topic through a framework, paradigm, theory or viewpoint.  I’ll say – “let’s look through the lens of a …”, “we’ll explore this through the lens of …”.

This idea of exploring the world through different lenses is interesting  and has been quite pertinent to me this last week.  When I reflect, my first encounter of looking through a different lens came, oddly enough, in my childhood through the cartoon character Mr Magoo, a near-sighted retiree who bumbles from one comical escapade to another. This was the first time I realised (and no doubt, I couldn’t actually articulate it back then) that I could see things others may not or that I could view events differently from my own vantage point. Kaleidoscopes, a type of lens, with their colourful and varying patterns composing and recomposing themselves as reflected in tiny mirrors, enchanted and transfixed me. The world looked different through a kaleidoscope.  I suppose the camera lens was next.  My father had an avid interest in photography and the idea of freezing a moment to be viewed at another time drew my attention. How bewitching to view an image with the benefit of hindsight, with distance, from outside the situation looking in.  To capture a moment to help strengthen a memory is so compelling.

Then there are words,  another set of lenses through which I’ve experienced the world.  Books and poetry, letters and essays. I’ve seen the world through the lens of many an artist too – their paintings and photographs, their sculpture and film have intrigued, moved and delighted me. They have taught me many lessons, sent me off on journeys of discovery and more.

I’ve looked through the lenses of different theories and notions, of different ideologies and standpoints. I’ve tried to employ the lens of empathy to inform my actions, thoughts and beliefs.

I have viewed life and explored its many wonders, trials and events through the lens of a  curious though private child, a complex, self-conscious teenager, a grieving granddaughter, an unyielding and misunderstood young woman, a loving and loyal wife, a vigilant and watchful mother. And it’s this chronology, this moving from maiden through matron and heaven forbid I say it – to crone that I now find I look through a different set of lenses.  Yes, alas, this new type of optical through which I will now view the world, only part-time mind you, are a full framed, clear lensed set of pretty little goggles.

Looking glass, drinking glass? Reading glass!
An affront.
My age, you say, crept up on me
I can no longer compensate.

The reading kind for you today, you see.
It’s your age.

Hush. Hush.
Time to look at the world differently.

It should be a trial, and yet, it’s not.
It simply is.
You see.
It just, bloody well, is.

In and out. Test this, test that.
Look up, look down.
Read this, read that.
Look near, look far.
It’s time for glasses you see.

Tsk Tsk.
Drinking glass?
The looking glass?
Venetian glass?
No, no a reading glass.

I see.
Ho hum,
So dumb.
I’m numb.
What a bum.

Itch! Witch!
Through the looking glass, a grandma I see.
Grey hair.
Crinkles and wrinkles.
The clearer I see, the more damned I be.

Nature is kind, my aunt once said.
Your eyesight goes and with it the wrinkles and crinkles, the greys and the years.

Blink, blink.
Such a to do.
There’s really no fuss.
I’m settled and calm, surprisingly.
Rally and rant – oh, no, not me.

It’s a change.
It’s flow.
New optics,
Silver shot locks
Different look. Different outlook.
No longer a maiden. Alas, a crone.

Wait, wait.
It’s an interesting life.
This cycle of things.
It’s simply a new lens, or two,
through which to filter the world around and beyond you.



7 thoughts on “Life unfiltered – looking through different lenses

  1. Shannyn I must say I haven’t explored this way of thinking. It likely speaks to my inflexibility. As often is the case with your posts you have given me lots to reflect upon. Hoping you are having an excellent weekend!

    • Hi Sue, you are generous as always, thank you. I doubt you are as inflexible as you say. You appear to me to be very broad thinking and open minded. Sometimes we aren’t aware of our natural tendencies as might be the case for you. Nonetheless, your encouragement is much appreciated.
      I am enjoying a lovely weekend. If your photo was any indication, you are too.

  2. Such a clever poem Shannyn . If there hadn’t been a challenge of sorts , would you have looked through your poetry spectacles ❓ maybe you would , may be not . When I tell people I write poetry ,they look at me with the wrong glasses on , they think I’m a little potty .
    Some people say , They really wouldn’t know where to start to write a poem …I say why not ❓you really don’t have to be William Wordsworth …just write ✒️🖊🖋✏️. You learn so much about yourself though putting pen to paper . Hope your enjoying it …it looks like you are because there is lovely poem to prove it 🌟✨

    • Potty, dotty pen loving woman
      was Worthsworth potty or
      did he simply dot his i’s and cross his t’s?
      No. no. I’ll stop right there. lol

      Cherry, it is interesting isn’t it the way many look at poetry. think it’s hard to approach either as writer or reader and yet I have noticed that many people write poetry when they are challenged, suffering loss etc. It seems to be the mode they are best able to write in.

      I am not going to win any awards but I am interested in playing around with this genre a little more, thanks to your challenge.
      Have a great week.

  3. I have always liked perspective described in terms of lenses because I feel it is a more practical description for what can often be a difficult concept to grasp.

    Much like actual camera lenses people can use lenses in many different combinations and in different situations. It can help to not always understand, but I suppose empathise with the differences in the people that surround us.

    I feel in most cases, that those people that annoy us the most aren’t that way because they choose to be, instead they act in a way that is consistent with he lenses that they have attained throughout their lives and that they may not even realise the effect the lenses have.

    Something important I have found is that much like a camera lens, our lenses (unless we consciously consider them) will view certain situations or people the same despite the actual facts..

    Not sure if I made entire sense but definitely a very worthwhile concept. Thank you for your great blog!

    • Hi MRBCF thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. I appreciate your thoughts and you totally made sense to me. I am interested in being more mindful of the lenses those I come in contact with each day may be employing to view the world. You are right, that is often where the rub comes because we are both using different lenses. Good thinking.
      So nice to engage with you here again.

    • Hi MRBCF thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. I appreciate your thoughts and you totally made sense to me. I am interested in being more mindful of the lenses those I come in contact with each day may be employing to view the world. You are right, that is often where the rub comes because we are both using different lenses. Good thinking.
      So nice to engage with you here again.

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