James Harmon’s book Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation From People Who Know a Thing or Two is a collection of letters that Harmon received when he asked creative people for advice. The advice came from writers, poets, independent film actors, and artists. Poet Robert Creeley was one of the writers who gave Harmon advice and he started his letter with, “What seems most significant is the way in which one takes the world as existing.” What I believe that the poet is saying is that our individual ways of thinking about the world, our place in it, and how things work, is the most important difference between us.
The poet continues his quote adding that our interpretation of the world is impacted most heavily by the time, place, and people around us at birth. In my mind this means that our economic, social, and political status at birth and as we grow to young adults will impact how we view the world. What is powerful about this quote is that it opens up the idea that we can all have different perceptions of the world, and that our perceptions are built by factors that we do not control.
This is why having a broad view of the world and a strong sense of awareness is important. Being able to understand that we have individual biases that shape our outlook on life allows us to look at the world from new perspectives. When you have only a narrow view of the world it becomes easy to criticize people for not living a certain way, or not thinking in a specific manner. Opening up your awareness and seeing the world from a wider lens that captures the viewpoints and understands the backgrounds of others will help one have more empathy for others, and more appreciation for the life they live.