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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Chin

Who we are, frames what we see

This is what greeted me at 7.30 on Saturday morning--- a 15 cm long turd on top of my front gate.

Who the *#** had left it there?

Turns out it was a civet cat. Or at least that's what the experts at ACRES say, and what I'm going to believe.

I'd spent a traumatic morning wondering who the culprit was. The top of my gate frame is 1.7m above the ground. No dog could have gone up there. And the frame was too hard and narrow to be attractive to a cat. So, it had to be human right? But if human, who was it? Was it a neighbour I'd unwittingly offended? Was it a dog-owner who became irritated by the "bag your dog's poop" sign the NEA had placed right outside the house. Was it a bored and malicious teenage? A ghost?

Suddenly I felt besieged. I was no longer safe in my little suburban plot defended by that 1.7 m high gate.

It was a relief to have someone in the know tell me it was the doing of a civet cat. Sure, the cats may spread SARS but I couldn't possibly impute malice to them. No one hated me. No one was irritated with me. There were no crazies or ghosts around.

It is interesting how I framed the incident. How I so quickly concluded a human was the perpetrator. How I then imagined all kinds of ill intent. What kind of a paranoid person am I? What doubts do I have about myself that I so quickly believed others might dislike me enough to put shit on my gate? What beliefs do I have about my fellow humans that I'd think they would be so mean? And why did I so quickly dismiss the role of Nature?

Who we are obviously frames what we see. To change those frames, we must be willing to seek different opinions, consider other facts.

It was my friend K, a free-spirited and completely un-paranoid nature enthusiast, who highlighted the possibility that the turd came from a civet cat. And my other friend R, who suggested I get confirmation from ACRES.

I'm all good now.

However, there are still those questions about who I am and how that frames my reactions to experiences. I'm going to have to do some work on that. And sooner, rather than later.

What unconscious beliefs and biases do you have that might frame your perceptions? How might you bring them to consciousness?

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