Perspective Perception Shift
Tale of the Not Brown Hijab
Upon entering a Zoom call with my wild women friends, Helena complimented me on my hijab, “I love the silver hijab you have on.”
“Thanks, but it’s brown,” I let Helena know.
“Really?” Helena was surprised.
We had a conversation on how the hijab looked on the silver and grey side. I thought I knew what color hijab I was wearing. After all, I had only bought it because of its brown shade.
I was reminded of numerous rebuttals I have with my husband, Shakil, over the color turquoise. We argue over whether it’s blue or green. Of course, I’m always right. How can I not be?
Helena showed me a painting of someone wearing brown and someone wearing grey. After a discussion of colors, we went on our much anticipated bi-weekly wild women stroll.
After the call, I became curious. Was it the camera that didn’t capture the brown shade of my hijab or was it me? I saw a brown hand bag perched inside a box in my bedroom; A box of stuff that I still have to put away. I took off my hijab and placed it right on top of the brown handbag. This handbag was definitely brown. It didn’t fall into any other category of color. It was plain brown, no questions asked.
Wait a minute. This hijab does not resemble brown at all. I took a picture. Not brown. How can that be? Was this hijab brown when I first bought it and then perhaps it changed color to a grayish silver? That can’t be. I don’t know of any brown fabric that changes to a grey-silver color. Hair does that. Not fabric.
This little insight got me thinking about all the “facts” I perceive to be true. What if they are not?
Back when I bought the non-brown hijab, I thought this fabric would go great with all my brown colored clothing. I associated this hijab with the color brown. For more than three years, I’ve been thinking it’s brown and wearing it with brownish clothing. And then just a simple comment from a friend challenged that notion. At first, I fought back. “This is brown. You can’t tell me otherwise.” The thought lingered and I somehow became open to the possibility that it might not be the shade I thought it to be. I was open to the possibility because my inner state was in a good place after our call. I also recalled the perspective and juxtaposition of the brown against the grey in the painting Helena showed me. I went out to see for myself by comparing the hijab with other base brown colors. I even got a brown M&M and placed it against the hijab. The grey fabric of the hijab came shining through. I had to admit that the hijab indeed was not brown.
How many times have I done that? Perhaps I categorized some people in a basket in my brain and they were not what I perceived them to be? How many times did I move around in life thinking my way to be the only way? What about when I assume that how I see and perceive is also how others see and perceive?
In High School during my pre-glasses era, I squinted my eyes to see the blackboard. I thought that was how everyone saw from the last row. The blackboard was also very streaky. How could anyone possibly see from so back there with a streaky blackboard? Also, how can I be so old that I lived in ye olde times of the blackboards? It turned out that others could see from back there. I remember whispering to my classroom neighbors and asking them what words were on the board. They would let me know with ease while I struggled to make out the words. Putting on my first pair of glasses, I saw a different perspective of new found clarity and sharp vision. I finally was able to see from the back of the room. This was a shift in perspective and that enabled me to perceive the words and images more clearly.
If I take off my glasses now, everything is blurry. That blurriness did not exist in my pre-glasses era. It’s as if my friend, Helena, offered me some glasses. A new perspective. I was reluctant to put them on. When I finally put them on, I saw another way. My vision became more fine-tuned. It made me challenge my old perception. I learned my old thinking was not true. Once I admitted to that, I could not un-see how un-brown the hijab was.
During dinner time, I saw my not brown hijab draped across the kitchen banquette. I asked my husband just for laughs: “what color would you say this hijab is?” He looked at it carefully and said, “It’s slate”. Slate! Now, that’s a fancy word. Something that I didn’t expect from him. What if my husband is right about turquoise and so many other subjects that we don’t agree on? Oh my world. I think for now, I’ll merely sit with the learning of the hijab not being brown. I can tackle the possibility about Shakil being right and I being wrong on another day.