How to Go Out of Your Mind
Hint: It’s a crazy idea that just might work
Can you ever see from someone else’s point of view?
“No,” some say. We are entirely bound by our own way of seeing. All the world lays before us—all the friends and enemies and acquaintances and mobs, the institutions, the physical world, all the influences, everything that is, was and ever will be (amen)—all of which we perceive from our own vantage point. We fill our brain pan using our eyes, our ears, our sense of touch, our taste buds, our sense of smell.
It’s always me looking out at you.
There are manufactured instances, though. Huge numbers have already bought Star Wars: The Force Awakens tickets for the very experience of looking out at a favorite world through JJ Abram’s eyes, who happens to be channeling George Lucas’ story-brain. We reread Harry Potter or Tom Sawyer for the joy of seeing from someone else’s perspective.
Stories get us close to seeing from someone else’s eyes.
A primary challenge in teaching copywriting to English students is asking them to see from someone else’s perspective. It’s an invitation to awaken the force (as it were) of caring about someone else’s issues and feeling the weight they feel. And though we see and feel imperfectly, it is enough to begin to engage our imagination. And it is precisely the imagination-engaged that produces satisfying, potentially useful copy that has a chance of meeting some human need.
I want to think that as we age, we become better able to see from someone else’s perspective. But my experience says otherwise: it is all too easy to let my world close in to include only what impacts me directly.
Hard work, it is, to begin to see from someone else’s perspective.
And good work.
Dumb Sketch: Kirk Livingston