How do you see the world? Visual perspective - the way things appear to our eye- things like shapes, dimensions, colors- those are set. But some perspectives can be manipulated; proximity or angles can be changed. For example, you might be sitting at your computer now. Stand up and see how the room looks different from that other angle. While there are optical illusions and tricks to the eye, most visual variables are not going to be physically altered. (standing up isn’t going to change the color of the curtains) But a different view can change perceptions. And how we perceive the information we take in is very much a choice.
We all perceive the world through our own lens. (You might think those curtains are ugly) Our point of view, or cognitive perception, is largely shaped by our experiences, our beliefs, emotions, moods and the actions around us. In that way, you choose how you see. And how we traverse the world and how we interact with others is shaped by this perspective. For instance, does the world look different when you are happy or sad? Does the traffic you are in seem worse when you are late or angry? Doesn’t the sun shine brighter when you are in love?
Cognitive perception can be manipulated too. Perhaps you are feeling blue because you are being laid off and losing your job? You might be feeling embarrassed, hurt or concerned about the future. It might feel like it’s the end of the world. But with a small twist of your point of view, the perspective might change. How does it compare on scale to other people or events around you? For example, how does the pain of losing your job compare to the illness or loss of a loved one? How would losing your job feel compared to, say, losing your ability to walk? Pretty small concern then.
Most visual and cognitive perception is unconscious. It’s not something we focus on as we slog through our daily routines. But for people in wheelchairs, perspective is often in the forefront. When you navigate the world on wheels, you have to think about how you get in a building, get out of bed, make breakfast, get into your car to get to work -- how you do so many of the things able-bodied people take for granted.
The world looks different from a sitting position too. When you are in a wheelchair, you always have to look up to talk with your standing fiends and family. That shapes your perspective, both visual and cognitive.