Rachel Grossman, artist, engagement strategist, producer, facilitator, yogi and Mentor at the Audience Diversity Academy explores how we can begin experimenting with our worldview and challenge our perspectives
Into my late 20s I remained confident that: brown liquors were a waste of time, bananas were disgusting, and Wuthering Heights was one of the most dreadful books ever written. I knew these things about myself and the world. No joke: the three co-founders of theatre company dog & pony dc, we openly self-identified as a banana and Wuthering Heights haters.
In 2004 I visited Scotland for the first time on a long-delayed honeymoon. Everywhere we went: the whisky flowed and my spouse imbibed while I - never one for brown liquors - asked for a Pint, a vodka, maybe a glass of wine. We toured distilleries, the history and science of which I found fascinating, but I passed on the tastings. Then, after being asked for the hundredth time if I wanted “a wee dram” it finally hit me: I Was In Scotland.
You might think that a bit naive, but at that time I hadn’t traveled to many places and not as an adult. My view of brown liquors had been heavily influenced by a few bad experiences as a teenager. However: horrific hangovers from cheap Jack Daniel’s knock-offs was something to grow past, not cling to. I turned to my spouse at a bar and announced that I was going to learn how to enjoy whisky. We asked the bartender for recommendations, and they talked me through taste profiles, ways to drink (water or not), and how to order. The remainder of the trip--which took us throughout different regions--provided me with a broad introduction to whisky. It’s predominantly what we stock our home bar with since returning.
A few years later, I traveled to Costa Rica and saw bananas growing on trees for the first time. With increasing fascination I watched people simply approach banana trees, pick a ripe fruit, and start eating. My internal monologues started: “How could they just do that? GROSS! Wait a minute, I want to be able to walk up to a tree and pick fruit off it? I could if I liked bananas. Interesting: why did I dislike bananas so much?”
In chatting with a local about how to adjust the formal/academic phrasing of my Spanish, I blurted out: “How do you say ‘can I have a banana?’” I used my new phrase to pick and eat my first ripe-off-the-tree banana. My spouse nearly fainted. The taste wasn’t what I remembered; it wasn’t that “banana-y.” I ate a banana a day for the rest of the trip. We learned about the different varieties of bananas and the fruit’s growing cycles. And once we returned to the States I tried out grocery store bananas. Not as good, but do-able. Over a decade later, I’m a banana daily eater.
Okay friends, time to shift our perspective and take in the bigger picture.
Our understanding of ourselves and others, what’s good|bad or right|wrong (or even that those are appropriate measures), essentially our worldview is shaped over time by many conditions: some out of our control, and many within our control. A condition always in our control is what’s driving our behaviors: our worldview or our capacity for discernment. Like my bias against brown liquors, our worldviews can be altered by seemingly insignificant encounters with unexpectedly long-reaching impact. Like my predilection against bananas, our worldviews can seem so natural, that they’re simply who you are. To even consider questioning it your worldview is inconceivable. And yet: what is inconceivable?
- Electricity running throughout private homes?
- Free access to almost any selection of music ever recorded and digitized?
- Eating Cherry Cola Oreos?
It doesn’t take traveling the world to acknowledge you have a specific lens through which you view it. After acknowledging our lenses lens, we can examine our own in our home communities through daily activity. We can easily and incrementally begin to experiment with our worldviews, challenging our perspectives, and, maybe, widening our lenses. Doing it on home-turf means we have a trove of known supports and local resources at hand. It’s not part of a separate adventure, and therefore part of your “out of office” you; it’s part of the youest part of you.
So... in honor of widening our worldviews….
Three cheers to bananas (on their own, not in things - yuck!).
Three cheers to whisky (and bourbon - yum!).
But Wuthering Heights? Might this be where I have to draw the line. For now.
Photo: World View, Wendy Cope
Rachel Grossman, artist, engagement strategist, producer, facilitator, yogi and Mentor at the Audience Diversity Academy.