The way I see it

Bob Gervais
Posted 01.09.07

"The way I see it" . . . Have you ever spoken that particular phrase? Do you know anyone who has? Well, I certainly have heard it said and I have no doubt uttered it.

It is a peculiar expression, when you think about it. It sounds like it might be going to offer a vision of clarity, a view of something that will bring light to a subject or discussion. But, really, what the speaker is saying is that a description of something will shortly ensue that will be a limited, near-sighted, and perhaps even distorted view of a situation. It may even be a pronouncement on some aspect of this ride we call life.

Let's just take a peek at the words in the expression. 'The way', for example - what do you suppose the speaker means to say by that?

Is this an allusion to a direct path or line of vision? Is it a line of vision that looks around corners to see past obstacles? Is it perhaps even an indirect reference to an illusion - like a mirage - a trick of light, or sound, perhaps something that the speaker would really like to see up close but cannot, and does not, for any one of a whole bunch of reasons.

Perhaps it is meant to suggest an angle from which a scene or idea is viewed. It may even mean a relative observation point, you know, above, below or to one side or the other. And, if it is any of these, how far is the speaker from the scene about which something is to be conveyed? One might almost be tempted to say 'something is to be shared' but that implies active participation of the listener or viewer.

Unfortunately, 'The way I see it' is a user-driven remark that has no particular relationship to a listener or secondary viewer.

It may be that the information, thought, idea, or vision to be conveyed will eventually be read, consumed, seen by someone else but it doesn't have to be at the moment when 'The way I see it' is seen - or said.

Even after this short examination of 'The way', it is difficult to understand clearly and precisely where the originator of the remark may be going. Let's move on down the phrase a bit.

How about the 'I see' part?

Is the speaker really referring to what we call vision? Looking out through the two orbs we call eyes? Or is the reference to seeing more one of understanding, grasping an idea or concept? And, if it refers to the eyes, does the speaker have glasses? Wear contacts? Have any astigmatism, any visual deficiency, like colour-blindness or myopia?

It's not that any of these factors necessarily mean that the speaker can not see; it does, however, allow the possibility that the manner in which the speaker sees something may be so unique and individualistic that even a ton or words would not suffice to render, with 100 percent accuracy and fidelity, whatever the speaker is seeing.

And that brings us to 'it' - 'The way I see "it." '

'It' is a curious word. It is precisely imprecise. It suggests but does not define or identify - anything. It indicates a direction but not a specific point in that direction, whatever that direction might be.

The true meaning behind the 'it' in this expression will only begin to take form, shape, or become more clear and less obscure, when the speaker puts some context around it. The context, of necessity, will only ever be as potentially rich and varied as the background, experience, and upbringing of the speaker will let it be.

The 'colour content' that will help to define 'it' will be of a hue that reflects the state of mind of the speaker.

Is the speaker in a blue funk? Is the speaker seeing red? Does the speaker have a rainbow 'round the shoulders? Again, unless the speaker tells us any of this, the exact intended meaning of 'it' will evade us.

So, the way I see it, we should find some other way to get across what we mean - like maybe standing beside each other, looking in the same direction with our hearts, perhaps holding each others hand, or maybe just shoulder to shoulder. That way, we would see it much closer to the same way and not need a lot of words to describe it.

At least, that's the way I see it.

Copyright © 2007 Robert Gervais/Log Cabin Chronicles/01.07