optical illusion

optical illusions, vastly different perspectives

optical illusion: tiger or monkey?

Earlier this week, a health coaching colleague posted a black and white optical illusion image and asked, “What animal do you see first?”

I haven’t been able to trace the source of this image to post it here, and I like to give credit where it’s due, so you’ll have to imagine it: the black shape looks like a monkey, swinging from a tree branch, and if you focus on the white space, it’s a fierce tiger head.

(It’s very similar to the classic optical illusion of, “What do you see first?” where the answer is either a young woman or an old one.)

Supposedly, based on what you see first, her post said, you can tell which side of your brain is dominant. It’s a fun game—and I was a bit surprised at the answer I got. After thinking more about it, I believe that as a young adult, I would have seen the tiger first even though as a mature adult, I immediately saw the monkey. (Is it possible to rewire your brain that way?)

It got me thinking about how we view the world, and of course, the Universe immediately delivered two more examples for me.

(lack of) diversity

I love hearing from my virtual community, whether it’s in the comments to a blog post or via email—especially when the comment is thought-provoking.

This past week, I heard from someone via email who was questioning the choice of image used for the Foundations of Wellness for Women collaborative of which I am a part.

Here is the image:

Foundations of Wellness for Women

Their point—and I have to smile because I’m trying very hard to use non-gendered language, and the fact that they did not share their name with me helped me with that—is that the banner does not include a diversity of sizes.

As someone in the health and wellness field, I know that weight is not necessarily an indicator of health—for a great summary of the research and meta-analyses of research in this area, check out Emily and Amelia Nagoski’s excellent writing on the Bikini Industrial Complex and its connection to burnout.

Yes, I responded to the email, I’m aware of that—and I spent a lot of time browsing stock photo sites without success on that front. I did find a banner that included a diversity of ages, races/ethnicities, and body shapes; unfortunately, most of the women are thin, and the ones who aren’t still qualify as what our society deems a healthy weight.

I was looking at the picture and seeing the diversity of who is represented there—I saw the monkey; they were looking at the picture and seeing who is missing from the lineup—they saw the tiger.

Two different lenses, neither one right or wrong—just different.

senior or prospective?

On a town hall-style Zoom call with the administration of my daughter’s college, there was a lively <sarcasm font> discussion about why in-person campus tours were being conducted during the pandemic.

The basic question was, why are our students who are on campus taking all these precautions—and yet the college is allowing prospective students on campus for tours?

Naturally, the college was taking precautions with the tours as well (masked, distanced, outdoor-only, no going into any buildings, etc.), and after the alert level was raised a few weeks ago, the tours were suspended.

Finally, one wise parent made the point that, if we were all parents of prospective students, wouldn’t we be asking the opposite question? How is the college to survive if enrollments plummet because our children were not allowed on campus for a tour, especially since they are taking all necessary precautions?


Because again, it’s a question of how you see the world—and that involves answers to some complex questions: who are you, where do you come from, who raised you, what is important to you, what fills you, what scares you, what are you trying to outrun, what are you trying to protect….

Neither parent is right or wrong—just different. (Well, perhaps we all are for trying to manage our almost-grown children’s lives, but as we parents pay the tuition in most cases, perhaps we can be forgiven?)

make the connection

It’s no mistake these messages from the Universe came this week: let’s not ignore the elephant in the room any longer—it’s the week of the election, and in this country, we are having a really hard time understanding that there are always at least two ways to see a given situation.

I’m sending you all—and I do mean all—love, light, and many blessings as we face a difficult week: may we all remember that some of us see a tiger while others see a monkey.

[Featured image by Jonas Svidras for Pexels.]