Poisoned Perceptions

Poisoned Perceptions
Written by: Andrea Angileri

I recently watched several Netflix rentals, one of which was James Gandolfini’s last film entitled, “Enough Said”. In an interview, I remember his co-star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus echoing to Oprah Winfrey that this movie was much more closely reflective of Gandolfini’s true self, versus the Tony Soprano character he was famous for. I heard the movie was good, but had no idea that there would be such a strong message delivered by the late actor.
In this film, Louis-Dreyfus’ character Eva meets Albert (Gandolfini) and begins a tentative relationship with him. Both characters are divorced and in the process of sending their only daughters away to college. Unknowingly, Eva (a masseuse) also begins a friendship with admirable new client Marianne (played by Catherine Keener). When Eva finds out that Marianne’s ‘ annoying’ ex-husband is Albert she finds herself grappling with telling the truth, separating someone else’s truth from her own, and accepting her own truth. Eva is challenged to see Albert’s flaws. Some of Albert’s’ ‘flaws’ are petty, like the way Albert separated his onions in his guacamole or didn’t use bed stands, while the other more physically apparent, that he was overweight. Marianne obliviously confides details of her ex-husband and unknowingly confuses Eva’s’ feelings towards Albert through their conversations, in which Eva is all ears with clouded discernment. Marianne is admirable and nice, which adds to Eva’s confusion. As movies go, there will always be revelation and some sort of resolution. This compromised friendship becomes revealed to all and the dust settles.
Gandolfini delivers an excellent line in the movie, he says, “You let my ex-wife poison your perception of me?”. Eva backpedals and defends saying, “No…I did not let her poison my perception.” Eva and other characters resolve their own ‘poisoned perceptions’ and the movie ends…but the message resonates within me. ‘Poisoned perceptions’….’poisoned perceptions’…when in my life have I too been susceptible to having my perceptions poisoned? And the answer is….’When have I NOT ever been susceptible to having my perceptions poisoned?’ For truly, this is a main theme in human existence, to seek out our OWN truths and perceptions, in a world filled with varying truths and perceptions. Whether it is about our spouse, our children, our parents, the town we live in, or our entire lives, people will challenge us. Yes, there are flaws. I firmly believe that to truly love somebody or something you must be able to see their flaws. You may even have to voice the flaw, defend the flaw, accept or reject the flaw, and figure out how it all fits into our life plan. However, it is up to us to not let others or even OURSELVES poison our perceptions and affect our own truth. It may be a matter of saying, “Yes…I see that flaw…and I have had to deal with it” or more boldly, “No, I do not share your perspective of this flaw…at all…in fact…I don’t even see it as a flaw.” This can be an ongoing internal or external process. It’s not that the ‘perception poisoner’ is some sort of evil step-mother handing you a poison apple. It can come in the form of a child’s negative attitude, a loved one’s advice, a stranger’s off-handed comment, a local headline, something your saw in the media, or the small but mighty voice within ourselves.

What will you do today to ensure you will not let your perceptions be poisoned and just as importantly…What will you do to ensure you are not poisoning other people’s  perspectives?