As I prepare to talk to 600 strangers about the wonders of the Dave Matthews Band, it occurs to me that some members of my audience may not be familiar with DMB, or, (gasp), might actually dislike them! And perhaps even stranger, fellow fans could see things about this ensemble that I never imagined. But that’s what is so interesting about life; we all view it from our own colored lenses.
And it turns out, our lenses aren’t very reliable. Many factors go into the way that we perceive an event, including, but not limited to, how much sleep we are getting, what kind of mood we are in, what we ate for lunch, how we interacted with our family of origin, and what happened to us five minutes prior. This is one of the reasons that eye-witness testimony is so questionable. We think that we know what happened, but sometimes that’s the problem. Just ask the two “yutes” driving the 64 Buick Syklark in “My Cousin Vinny.”
Yet, while it’s true that our minds may not produce the most accurate recordings, there is much to be learned from our idiosyncratic ways of seeing the world. If we can delve into the mystery that lies behind our own eyes, our self-awareness grows exponentially, and in turn, we begin to see others more clearly. And there is nothing more healing for our souls than to be viewed through an honest, open, and compassionate perspective.
In truth, simply realizing that things are not always as they seem can be a huge help in interpersonal relationships. Imagine how many arguments would be avoided if we could put our egos aside and subscribe to the idea that our personal viewpoint may not suit everyone around us. To me, many of Dave Matthews’ lyrics speak to this necessity. When he says things like, “the ground beneath is nothing more than my point of view,” and “Oh, life it seems is a struggle between what we think and what we see,” he seems to be acknowledging this disconnect, or rather, the inevitable connection between our own experience and how we end up making sense of our environment.
And yet, as individual as our awarenesses may be, there still exists a common ground, a Universal pull, or a wave that brings us all to shore. Herein lies the paradox, because celebrating our uniqueness actually brings us closer together. Strangely, living fully within our own skin allows us to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I think Dave expresses this beautifully in “Sister,” when he sings, “Sister, I hear you laugh, my heart fills up,” and “Sister, when you cry, I feel your tears running down my face.”
In the end, knowing our own habits, strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies is what truly allows us to relate to others. In this way, separateness brings unity. As Dave says, although we may still wonder “what lies behind the worried eyes of one-another,” he believes, “it’s love that we all need, and all too often forget that really, all the cure is lying in the heart.”