As I grow old, my eyesight is changing. I am less and less inclined to believe what I see. I attribute this to an over-supply of hindsight.
Looking back, I am humbled not only the number of things that I failed to see when they were right in front of me but by the number of things, I saw that weren’t actually there.
So how do I get the same acuity of vision in the here and now that I will have a decade after it’s too late to be of any use?
The two main culprits for my previous inability to see clearly are charisma and glamour.
Some people are born with charisma, some cultivate it and some only have it because we give it to them. Whenever I’ve given way to charisma it’s been because I enjoyed the feeling of being in the presence of someone special or because the image they projected was something I wished to be true. It has always been more about my need to be devoted than about the attributes of the charismatic person.
Charisma is a lie we want to believe.
A glamour is a charm or spell cast by someone to make you desire them.
Glamours are contextually specific and deliberately constructed. Glamour is a form of augmented reality, something our brains overlay on the information we receive. It drives us to focus on things that support an attractive image or story and ignore things that challenge that image or story.
Although glamours are built by others with the intent to attract, I believe that they work only because we want them to. Glamour is a distortion we collude in maintaining.
I think that hindsight gives us better vision partly because, over time, charisma and glamour wear off.
The leader I found charismatic in my teens may sound manipulative or naive to my sixty-something self.
The hairstyles and fashions that were the height of glamour in the 1980s are now laughable or grotesque.
As the glamour wears off, “Norwegian Wood” stops being a witty song with a catchy tune and becomes a smug piece of spiteful misogyny with a catchy tune.
I think this wearing off is partly caused by changes in my own desires and partly by the themes being pushed in the culture I live in. The lies I want to believe change. The deceptions I’m willing to collude in sustaining shift.
So how do clear my sight of charisma and glamour in the here and now?
I think we get a better view of what’s in front of us when we question why we like something or someone. We need to answer two sets of questions
“What am I being invited to see, by whom and why?”
“Why do I want to believe in what I’m being invited to see?”
If either set of answers invite a LIE in the middle of beLIEve than it’s time to dig deeper.
Perhaps, with practice, we can start to teach ourselves pre-emptive hindsight.