bad things happen… to each of us

Seventeen years ago, my life changed. Not only did it change, but everything in me was convinced it was changing for the worse.

Let’s be clear; it wasn’t just me who believed that; there was a reason our friends and family cried. Add the doctor on top of that, arriving in the room no less than an hour after our youngest son’s birth, whose first words to us were, “This must be the saddest day of your whole life.”

Let that sink in for a minute… “the saddest day of your whole life.”

In addition to the no doubt unintended, perceived gut punch, the doctor left us with a thick packet of info, brochures, statistics, etc., which included a multi-page list of approximately 300+ things that our son was now more likely to have wrong with him.

Wrong. 

Bad.

That’s how we perceived it.

Before we get to the main point of today’s post, let’s acknowledge October as Down syndrome Awareness Month — a totally awesome month — and offer a brief, supportive shout out to the friends and families that have such a special someone as a member of their family! No doubt many of those in this community are some of the finest people we have ever met. Truly. But I’d like to go a little deeper this day… in a way that affects us all.

What happens when something bad happens to you? Something you truly perceive as bad? 

Does it define you?

Does it destroy you?

Does anything good ever come out of it?

Let’s first address the increasingly pervasive “one-size-fits-all” rationale. Sorry, but that doesn’t make much sense to me… that because you and I have both experienced “the same kind of thing,” we should react the same way or share the same perspective. I don’t buy it. We are each uniquely and wonderfully made; we are wired differently. Therefore, it makes total sense to me that men, women, adults, children, persons of varied ethnicity and demographic would and could respond in totally different ways. I’d like to see us each give others a little more grace in this area, recognizing that “one-size-fits-all” is more suited for a retail clothing promotion. 

We react differently. That’s ok. Not even the mature nor intelligent respond the same. That is equally ok.

For me, having a child with a cognitive disability — and knowing that I was going to have to change my expectations immediately — was incredibly hard. Harder still was wrestling with the perception that not only the world — but also me, at the time — thought this was bad.

When I pivoted, however, from seeing my challenging circumstance as any doubt regarding who God is and how much he loves me to instead an opportunity to get to know and rely on him more, something changed. I began to see something the world did not — and perhaps cannot — always see.

I began to see something other than that perceived as bad. I began to see this also uniquely and wonderfully made child… who would teach me and grow me and stretch me… who would challenge some of my cultural norms… who would say things and react in ways I did not… who helped me learn and quit judging the different… who knew no fear… who loved faster… who was full of hope… and who taught me the striking difference between intelligence and wisdom. I began to draw nearer to the great big God of the universe — and then find a strength I otherwise would not have known. What I once saw as bad did not define nor destroy me; it instead, actually strengthened me.

Allow me to never suggest that the bad things are easy. No way. Allow me to also never suggest any of us need to just “get over it.” But let me suggest that the bad things in our life do not need to be lingering sources of anger directed at either self, the world, or those who think differently. Challenging as they are, they can be an opportunity to grow… if we let them.

Yesterday, as my son and I stood at the bus stop for none other than his 17th birthday, he again requested a long time favorite song. And so at 6:30 in the morning, in a public place, on a semi-busy street, we stood outside, belted it, and danced… “When I see your face, there’s not a thing that I would change, ‘cause you’re amazing, just the way you are…”

I see that now… amazing…

What an incredible opportunity to grow.

Respectfully…

AR

how great it is/was/is

WOW… how great it is to be back… I am eager and excited and pouncing to post as we get back in the swing of our weekly, respectful conversations.

But WOW… how great it was to feature our 10th annual Guest Writer Series… What a privilege it was to hear varied perspective from a diverse group of people! And how awesome it was to see the hundreds of you that read or participated in this year’s offering — including the many of you who privately reached out to say, “I can’t comment, but I’m reading and watching — and yes, learning from someone who thinks differently than me.”

Allow me to affirm and applaud that.

Since the origin of the Intramuralist, I have said that listening to me is not what’s most important. In fact (and listen closely, in case I’m never again quite so humble), sometimes what I write is wrong. Sometimes my perspective is off. And sometimes I don’t even know it. 

But in the world in which we now live, I never wish to insulate the echo chamber. Echo chamber residents only hear the sound of their own voice… their own opinion. And maybe an opinion is wise at one time… but if it never sharpens… if it’s never stretched… if it’s never challenged to say, “Look, there are other angles,” then I think we sacrifice the greatest wisdom.

I especially enjoyed the wisdom and other angles shared in this year’s series. This group of varied gender, ethnicity, faith, and political perspective had some poignant lines that made many of us think… i.e. 

“We have to allow ourselves to walk in the freedom of knowing that we are all on level ground; we are not so different from one another.”

“When five or more justices think they know better based on any reasoning whatsoever except for what the Constitution says, that is not democracy.”

“For many of us this ‘want-need’ struggle still affects our lives, especially if we are trying to follow the Biblical truths that address the acquisition of ‘getting’ and the teachings on ‘giving.’  But what if those truths mean we would really have more, not less?”

“When others have an offense against another, is it right for the offended person to hate the perceived hater?” 

“Many preach love, but discharge hate when the office holder is not in their camp. Many preach tolerance, but end relationships because of political views.”

“[Trump] could not have risen to power were it not for the toxic political environment that existed before he was elected. He knows how to take advantage of uncivil discourse, but it did not start with him, and it will not go away after his presidency unless we do something about it.”

“Hillary hears you and is intrigued by opposing viewpoints and tries to incorporate them into solutions. Voters rarely saw this side of Hillary.”

“To say we have not seen any change to race relations would not be truthful. To say there is not still much work to do would also would not be truthful. My advice is to acknowledge and embrace the positive changes that have occurred.”

“The bottom line is we all play a role in each other’s lives. We have to ask ourselves how we can be a part of the solution… Can we listen without judging?”

Great to ponder, no doubt. 

And so I return with much more to discuss… from Mollie Tibbetts to John McCain to a Bahamian grocery clerk who inadvertently taught me an eye-opening, humbling lesson… to witnessing the counter screaming encounter in the airport… to the excellent, diverse books I read… to attempting to discern where God’s compassion and sovereignty meet — and how many of us are better at embracing only one of those… to voting third party and the existence of the Electoral College… to Joe Biden, Lindsay Graham, the “three amigos,” and voting for the “nice guys”… to my young son’s profound lesson on racism — and what it taught me…

I love our Guest Writer Series for so many reasons — most of all, because it is the manifestation of welcoming diverse perspective, an excellent habit for us all. Note that I also love the intentional respite it provides, firing me up for a fruitful return.

“So let the games begin, friends!” Remember all are welcome to play.

We play sincerely, often seriously, but always, always, respectfully.

Respectfully Indeed…

AR

the hottest of messes

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #4 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect…]

 

Police cars sound in the distance. A look of sheer panic flashes in her eyes as she begs her teacher to know if it is yet another bomb threat.

An over-the–road truck driver’s family learns of his whereabouts when he does not return home at the end of dropping his load. No one would have guessed he would never make it home alive.

“If I could ask my son one question, I would ask him how it felt, after he pulled that trigger, to fall into the arms of Jesus,” sobbed a grieving Pat, the father of a colleague who committed suicide at the end of school last year.

One common thread binds these three stories together. One consistent — dare I say, “friend” — proves to be there. 

Tragedy…

Tragedy… those events, which cause each of us great suffering, destruction, and distress.

Tragedy comes in many shapes and sizes. You know those moments… those that nearly do us in, leaving us breathless. 

The truth is stingingly real. Not a one of us is immune to tragedy. Each of us is impacted by the tragedies that touch our lives. Whether we want to admit it or not, there is a something that changes within us. Whether it is our thought process or our coping skills, I am not sure.

Or maybe it is our hearts. No one can answer that question for us. We must each take the time to look at who we are from the inside out.  

Another profound aspect of tragedy is that it plays no favorites. It does not concern itself with demographics or statistics. It comes when it comes…

Maybe it is a mass shooting such as Sandy Hook or Columbine. It could be a bomb threat at a school in rural southern Indiana “where things like that just don’t happen.” It could be the events that push a college friend to see no other way out but to take his own life. Or, even more surreal, perhaps it is that over-the-road truck driver who is your brother that was out of your life more than he was in and is now gone far too soon.  

Hear my heart. Regardless of what your tragedy may look like, it is okay to own it and be real with exactly where you are. If a struggle is there: say so and then let’s figure out how to rise up. We are all in this boat together friends! We are all a HOT MESS!!  

At the very least, we all have the great potential of becoming a hot mess. 

Just think how much sweeter this world of ours would be if we could only recognize that place in each other. We have to start within ourselves. We have to allow ourselves to walk in the freedom of knowing that we are all on level ground; we are not so different from one another.

Tragedies and joys alike are going to come. We will each face these moments in our lives. And we can all rise above. 

So this is my challenge to each of us… 

Can we strive to walk this road together? Can we walk beside each other, leaving room only for love, grace, and respect — and the freedom to do so regardless of what that looks like for each of us? … knowing it will look differently for each of us?

With you in the fray… respectfully…

The Hottest of Messes

living simply

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #3 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect…]

 

“Live simply so that others may simply live.”

This is a difficult statement because it requires us to define the word, “simply.”  

It does ask us to decide the difference between two very different words: NEED as in “must have… survival, you know” — and WANT as in “sure-would-be-nice-to-have and-fun, too”!  Of course, the internal argument that goes on in determining an answer is easier if we can quickly convert the “wanted” to the “needed.”  But that truly isn’t a solution, is it?  So why is it such a challenge?  

Well, one word suggests we may need to give up something or maybe make a change in lifestyle or abandon the “I-deserve-it” mentality. And does less make any sense (almost un-American?) or is having more really being self-indulgent? Tough questions if we really want to be honest with ourselves. Now some of you may have stopped reading now because no one likes thoughts and ideas that make us uncomfortable. But I will share a small personal example. 

This want-need struggle of mine first became apparent when I moved into a different house, one which I did not own. Along with all the possessions moved into the house were just the loveliest set of bath towels that were ideal in the former house… but now they were completely incompatible with the decor of the new bathroom, a total aesthetic nightmare in my eyes at least. Now I know any reader will have an immediate solution: “Paint!” Remember I said it was not my house, and it was inappropriate for me to get the permission of the owner. And then there were the realistic positions which I confronted literally and figuratively: The budget is tight.  We can’t afford this. Just get over it. And finally, the last straw, will the towels still do what a towel is supposed to do?  

Now this may be a trite example, but for many of us this “want-need” struggle still affects our lives, especially if we are trying to follow the Biblical truths that address the acquisition of “getting” and the teachings on “giving.”  But what if those truths mean we would really have more, not less?  

More of what, you ask?  

Here are only a few answers:

MORE room in our closets (… shall we have a shoe counting contest?)                                                         

MORE resources to help those who really do have needs… food, clothing, shelter…

MORE time to serve others, not just stuff that keeps us busy or on the go.

MORE rest not invaded by worry of bills, keeping up with the Joneses, etc.

MORE sharing of words that express appreciation, compassion, kindness.

So, make your own list of MORE’S…

And by the way, that opening statement — “Live simply so that others may simply live” — was written by Henry David Thoreau… I think Jesus would agree with him.

Respectfully…

DL

unprecedented sportsmanship

Two people.

One object.

Two people can look at one object and see it in totally different ways…

… sometimes in ways that seem contradicting… in ways in which we wonder how another ever possibly could have arrived at his or her perspective…

Enter high school baseball as today’s example…

Last month there was one Minnesota sectional championship game which was especially notable. The game featured Totino-Grace vs. Mounds View — the Eagles vs. the Mustangs.

What made this game remarkable was how it ended.

Mounds View pitcher Ty Koehn faced the final batter in Totino-Grace’s Jack Kocon. Ty struck out Jack to end the game.

With the final out, the Mustangs of Mounds View enthusiastically stormed the field, celebrating their well-earned coveted championship. They all spontaneously gathered near the pitching mound — that is, all except Ty Koehn.

Unlike the rest of his team, Ty instead rushed off the mound toward the batter’s box. He was there to console his opponent, Jack Kocon.

As reported by Minnesota site Bring Me The News, Ty said: 

“We are very close friends. Knew him from all the way back when we were 13. We were on the same Little League team. It was tough when we went to separate schools, but we kept in touch.

I knew the game was going to keep going or it was going to end right there. I knew I had to say something. Our friendship is more important than just the silly outcome of a game. I had to make sure he knew that before we celebrated.”

Look at this teen… so aware of what’s most important… so aware that opposition doesn’t have to be vicious nor divisive. And yet two people… one object… seeing things in totally different ways…

Note the tweeted reaction of others… but especially noted, the reaction of adults…

“This makes me shake with rage the more I see it. As I said elsewhere, this offends me as a youth football coach who preaches killer instinct to my players. I would make a player who did this hold his championship ring as I blowtorch it and melt it, because he doesn’t deserve it.”

“This is absolutely embarrassing. You have 1 moment to celebrate with your teammates who busted their tails w/ you, and you’re going to console a friend who’s upset? Kid is about as soft as it gets. Winners win and embrace it. Take this garbage somewhere else.”

“Call me old and crotchety (it’s probably true), but I personally find this ridiculous. The pitcher should be celebrating with his teammates. He can call or text his friend later and take him out for “milk shakes” at some point this summer.”

Wow… killer instinct… garbage… soft… ridiculous…

After a show of unprecedented sportsmanship, adults attempt to explain why empathetic behavior is wrong.

Have we soured so much in picking our teams, embracing division, and need to win, that we can no longer see what is good and right and true?

… that we can no longer see what we have in common?

… and that empathy and compassion are good?

Maybe we, too, need the younger generation to remind us of what is good.

Respectfully…

AR

the older man

Last week I witnessed the most feisty exchange…

A middle-aged man pulled his pickup truck into the nearest Publix parking spot. There was nothing unusual nor outstanding about the guidance of his vehicle. He was somewhat close to the gold sedan to his left, although the proximity had zero to do with driver error; the car to his right was hugging the line, so-to-speak, and there was simply minimal space with which to maneuver his vehicle. 

The driver of the gold sedan had exited the grocery and was entering his car as the pickup driver came to a halt. He was an older gentleman, and noticing the pickup driver’s closeness, he paused all movement. In fact, he reversed his perceived intention — stopped getting into his car, got totally out, and shut his door. The gold sedan owner awaited confrontation with the pickup driver.

As the pickup driver got out of his car, the older man approached him…

“You know, my wife was almost hit here twice last week.”

The pickup driver — who seemed nothing short of surprised that this stranger would engage — humbly responded, seemingly desiring to honor his elders… 

“Excuse me?”

To which the sedan driver repeated his concern, only more animatedly and adamantly…

“My wife was almost hit here twice last week! Two people almost hit her!”

He was angry… most likely, no doubt, sincerely angry.

I have to applaud the younger man’s reaction. He paused… stayed present… listened to the man’s concern… even affirmed his concern… and before walking away, he wished the older man well.

The older man never calmed down. It also did not rattle the younger.

I’ve thought of this each day since…

The older man was mad — his wife had almost been hurt.

The younger man parked nearby — but he did nothing wrong nor intentionally offensive.

But the younger man was closest…

… closest…

And so the older man reacted by taking his anger out upon the one who was closest.

Obviously, it was not the younger man’s fault that the older man’s wife had been endangered in the week prior. 

Obviously, the older man had reason to be concerned.

But in our concern, how often do we take it out on the person who is closest?

How often do we let our emotions fly not necessarily on the one who is responsible? … but rather on the one who is easiest to rail upon?

And the hardest question today… that I ask with all humble sincerity…

How often is that me?

How often am I the older man?

Respectfully…

AR

it’s all Greek to me

It’s true. I can be a bit of a nerd. 

Please… don’t agree so fast. 

Maybe it’s better said that I’m always a student… always learning… always attempting to figure life out. In fact, one of my bottom lines in life is that none of us have life all figured out this side of heaven; in fact, we are each — frankly — incapable. Hence, may all of us, always, be learning and growing — and have at least a little nerd within us.

One of my favorite, nerdier-perceived pursuits is my decades long study of the Greek. No doubt — no where close — I am no expert… although I would at least stand a chance if “Jeopardy’s ‘Daily Double’” fell in the convenient category of “Ancient Greek Roots” (… true, “NFL Superstars” would serve me far better).

Last week, no less, in my pursuit of knowledge, I uncovered a fascinating find… one that made me stop, reflect, and contemplate what current culture has captured and missed…

I was diving into this idea of how we are to treat one another — and specifically, the appeal of “bearing with one another in love.”

We all get the love idea… not that we’re always good at it. In fact…

We tend to be selective or withhold it or somehow justify why loving a certain other well isn’t necessary nor right. I’ll be honest; that practice doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, I get it… we get angry or hurt or feel wronged — and maybe it really is all the other person’s fault. But the failure to love well typically only hurts the withholder, as unfortunately, bitterness tends to then swell so swiftly on the inside. I don’t wish to live with a bitterness that burns primarily on the inside. I wish to learn and grow.

So “bearing with”… that’s the key action point here…

What does it mean? … to bear with one another in love?

Check out the Greek, friends…

Straight from the Greek, written at least a couple thousand years ago:

ἀνέχω…. (transliteration: anechō; pronunciation: ä-ne’-khō)

Look what’s in the meaning:

To sustain, to bear with, endure, with a genitive of the person (in Greek writings the accusative is more common, both of the person and of the thing), of his opinions, actions, etc.

Do you see what I see?

Do you see what’s seemingly so profound and countercultural?

… and has been around for centuries??

In the historic encouragement to bear with one another in love, there is an appeal to endure not only the person but also their opinions.

Granted, opinions can be stated without adding “you idiot” at the end of the sentence. But what’s key here is that if we are going love other people well, we are also going to be accepting of different opinion.

I’m thinking this isn’t going out on too much of a limb here… but in at least on our social media behavior, we have much to learn.

Respectfully…

AR

honked off

I did it again. 

Can you believe it?! 

And it was on the way to church… to church — for goodness sakes!!

The light had turned green, and yet the Rogue driver in front of me didn’t move…

… one Mississippi… two Mississippi…

HONK!

Ok, it really wasn’t that loud; it was more like a “honk” — much lighter, if you will.

And then I realized it. There are four types of “honkers” in current culture…

First, the “I Will Never” Honker…

… No matter what, no matter how egregious the error on another’s behalf — even if they are totally in the wrong and thinking crazily, irrationally, and all of the above — I will not… I refuse — not… I will never honk my horn to bring attention to you… I just couldn’t do that to another…

Second — (yes, moi) the “Tap, Tap” Honker…

… I really don’t want to… I don’t want to honk my horn at you. I want to treat you well and respect you, but the reality is that you’re not acting wisely. You need to move or do something different. Hence, I will lightly tap on my horn, letting you know I’ve noticed, but I have no desire to embarrass, shame, or disrespect you…

Next, the “Less-Than-Half-a-Second” Honker…

… Oh, my… I have no time for this. You are inconveniencing me so much… you are a freaking menace to society! Don’t you realize it? MOVE! And move now! Geesh…

And lastly, the “Flip-You-Off-While-You’re-at-It” Honker…

… Not only are you a frickin’ menace to society, but you shouldn’t even exist! Get the $#!%&! out of here! You are a disgrace to the human race. You shouldn’t have ever been born!.. 

[Pause… deep breath…]

So question…

Which of the above “honkers” will make an effective difference on another’s journey?

Which of the above “honkers” makes you want to be a little more like them?

As one witty, recent meme suggested: “FYI: If you beep your horn 0.3 seconds after the light changes green, I will shut off my car, lay on the hood, and feed birds for an hour.”

In other words, honking at people more often than not, doesn’t produce the kind of change we say we believe in; it doesn’t make people act more like we desire; it doesn’t make them want to be more like us. They might move in the moment, so-to-speak, but lasting change is typically not a result of demonstrative honking.

So where do we need to change how we let another know of their perceived error in judgment? … an error that inconveniences us or is in our way somehow? What if it’s ridiculous, even foolish behavior?

Great questions. 

Maybe we should spend more time asking and listening as opposed to finding louder ways to honk our horn.

Respectfully…

AR

what if I’m the hypocrite?

Seriously.

What if it’s me?

What if I’ve always said to love my neighbor as myself but then I intentionally choose some not to love? 

What if I’ve announced my pursuit of the truth and nothing but the truth and then justify why it’s ok to promote falsehoods or fake news?

What if I say “let’s all be tolerant” but then choose to denounce the person who’s intolerant?

What if I vow to respect all life but then prioritize some lives over others?

What if?

What — dare I ask — what if that’s me?

The origin of the word “hypocrite” comes from the Greek word, “hypokritḗs.” The word was commonly used to describe actors on the stage, derived from the words “hypó” — which means “under” — and krínō — which means “judge.”

Hence, by definition, the masculine noun equates to “properly, a judging under, like a performer acting under a mask (i.e. a theater-actor), or (figuratively) a two-faced person; a ‘hypocrite,’ whose profession does not match their practice — i.e. someone who “says one thing but does another.”

I’ll be honest. I don’t hate a lot of things. In fact, I have taught my children that the only things worthy of hatred are, as best discernible, what we know God hates (i.e. haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift to run to evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who spreads discord among family).

But sometimes I hate hypocrisy.

I arguably hate it most when I see it in me.

Sometimes, friends, I have said one thing, but done another. Sometimes, I have failed to love another well. Sometimes I’ve been inconsistent. And sometimes I have done something, believed something, or said something contrary to what I say I would think, say, or do.

Dr. Robert Kurzban, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, published a fascinating piece in 2011, aptly titled: “Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite.” He says:

“The book is really about human nature. It’s about contradictions in human nature. It’s how we can believe two things simultaneously which are mutually contradictory…

I think the way to understand this is to use the example of the smart phone. So the reason that today’s smart phones are so smart is not because they have one killer app; they’re smart because they have a lot of different applications — all of which have really narrow functions — and these functions are bundled together in a phone that allows you to do lots of different things. 

What I argue in the book is that a human mind is very similar to a smart phone. Mechanisms that are designed to do things like cause you to eat good foods and cause you to seek mates and do all the different things that humans do that you can think of, [are each] applications. And the crucial thing about these applications is that because they are simultaneously running in the same head — and they have different jobs — and they’re isolated from each other — often times they can have mutually contradictory information; they can contain contradictions. And by understanding these mechanisms and how they work and how they operate simultaneously — often, without our awareness — we have a much deeper understanding of human nature.”

And so as much as possible, I try to say what I mean and mean what I say. I desire to practice what I preach, so-to-speak. But my sense is that sometimes, I contradict myself. Sometimes I’m not as moral as I think I am. Sometimes, I am actually the hypocrite.

That’s a very humbling reality… and one that prompts me to examine the need to give much more grace to everyone else. 

Imagine… 

… giving more grace to everyone else…

Respectfully…

AR

what did you expect to hear?

Laurel, Yanny…

Yanny, Laurel…

With visions of sugar-plums or blue and black or white and gold dresses still dancing in our heads, we find ourselves debating yet another divisive phenomenon. 

A Reddit user recently posted a short audio clip, asking fellow users the simple question: “what do you hear?”

Hundreds of thousands voiced an opinion — even Ellen DeGeneres and JJ Watt. Fascinatingly, DeGeneres and Watt — two upstanding, seemingly goodhearted people — heard two totally, different things.

One heard “Laurel.” The other heard “Yanny” — two completely different words — words so different in meaning and sound that there is no possible way both people could be right.

And since each actually heard it, it takes minimal effort for each to conclude that they alone are right. 

In the days that followed, we have learned that technically, if you heard “Laurel,” you heard correctly; it was the vocabulary word of a Georgia high school student. But the explanation shouldn’t blind us to the wisdom embedded in the opportunity before us…

“You mean that good people — even intelligent people, logical people, people I love — might be convinced they heard the only right thing? … that they may conclude, even vehemently so — that all others are wrong? … and then maybe, they might start treating that other as lesser? … even justify insults or looking down on them?…

There were multiple explanations for this recent, aptly-termed, “auditory illusion.” Wired Magazine shared as follows: 

“… Thankfully, scientists have an explanation for why people hear different things when they listen to the recording. A number of academics chimed in to explain the phenomenon on Twitter. They said that the clip is an ‘ambiguous figure,’ or as one auditory neuroscientist explained it to The Verge1, the audio version of ‘Rubin’s Vase,’ an optical illusion where two people’s profiles can also be seen as a flower vase. In other words, it’s an optical illusion, except for your ears. There’s not really a correct answer either way. The reason that the recording is so contested is likely because it’s noisy, meaning there are lots of different frequencies captured. What you hear depends on which frequencies your brain emphasizes.

The higher frequency sounds in the recording make people hear ‘Yanny,’ whereas the lower frequencies cause others to swear they hear ‘Laurel.’ What you hear depends on what sounds your brain is paying attention to, your past experiences, and what you’re expecting to hear. What word you experience might also have to do with your age. Older adults often start losing their hearing within the higher-frequency range, meaning it’s possible that more young people hear ‘Yanny.’

There are also other, technical explanations. For example, what you hear might have to do with your speakers, your headphones, or the acoustics in the room. ‘The main reason (I suspect) people hear this differently is because different headphones and speakers filter the frequencies of the sound in different ways,’ tweeted Dana Boebinger, a PhD student at Harvard and MIT studying auditory perception, in a thread breaking down the illusion. There’s also what platform you heard it on first—the differences in the audio could have something do with how Twitter or Instagram compresses video files…”

Let’s get this straight…

There’s not really a correct answer either way…

The reason that the recording is so contested is likely because it’s noisy… (… what other sounds and voices are we listening to?)…

What you hear depends on what sounds your brain is paying attention to, your past experiences, and what you’re expecting to hear…

So what we are paying attention to affects what we actually hear.

Sounds like maybe, just maybe, we could apply this wisdom even further…

Respectfully…

AR