A woman complains to her husband that her haircuts are more expensive than his, even though they essentially have the same haircut. The husband is honest and agrees that he has always felt it a bit crazy that the female clients of salons were essentially subsidizing the fancy decor and products that the men also shared in.
She understandably thinks it’s unfair that women should be paying for the decor when men see the decor and use the products too, but he rightly points out that if it were up to the men it would often just be a chair and mirror and a barber with good conversation skills, so there would be no need for the extra expense.
And that all makes sense. No one is wrong or lying but they entirely disagree. It’s only because they are individuals –defined by valuing things differently– that they see a different version of what’s fair. They both have very respectable points. The problem with believing in a central reality is that people could pick either of their ‘sides’ and argue with facts but to no good end.
This is why a greater level of understanding other than just facts is needed, as is further demonstrated by taking the example further. Now imagine that the husband might later bring up the conversation with his wife while he’s at work, but he’s surprised when his co-worker agrees with the wife.
The co-worker might note that his daughter is a hairdresser, and that the nice surroundings and fancy hair-dos are more than just ego to him, because he watched his daughter, watch her mother lose her hair before dying of cancer. So making women feel important, and focused-on and beautiful means a great deal to his daughter the hairdresser. That adds a lot of value to a salon for her.
None of that makes any of the facts the husband said false, but we can see it greatly complicates our idea of what a hair salon can mean to different people. That’s because hair salons are made of thoughts, not of sinks and mirrors and paint.
Going even further, we could talk about the salon’s designer, and how this was her first job and it how won an award that launched her career and made her parents proud of her, and also helped her and her husband weather a job loss of his. Those are all huge things that will make that salon iconic to her.
Despite the tremendous value in the design to the designer and hairdresser and wife, the husband cannot appreciate any of their values by simply looking at the designer’s creation a year later. The only sign of her work is beauty and the invisible efficiency of the people using the space.
Do we really think the wife, the husband, the co-worker and hairdresser-daughter, and the designer all see the same salon? No. Absolutely not. They never did. They ‘see’ something similar, but their thoughts turn that reality into entirely separate ideas.
The problem is, good people could easily argue over those valid ideas, all while saying that they are representing the true value of that salon. But we can’t solve the problems of the world if we can’t appreciate the reality of separate realities.
Everyone looks at everything in life through their lens of their own experience, and they weigh what they see based on the values their life experiences left us with. If we understand that, we understand that everyone always did see a different salon.
Now that we know that, we can stop having arguments over hair salons (or anything else made from thought), unless the arguments themselves are enjoyable to have –because we also must remember that some people’s life experience means debating itself is a joy to them.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.