One of the interesting elements of human interaction is to see how the perception of others can actually change the perception one has of him- or her-self.
For example, I have been told on numerous occasions by different people in different places that I bear a striking resemblance to Robert De Niro. One lady (she darned near fainted when she first saw me; guess she was a big De Niro fan) insisted I was actually him, but that I was denying it because I was on vacation and trying to maintain privacy!
I remember the first time someone pointed out a resemblance to De Niro I thought, “No way, I don’t look anything like him.” But when I went home and started looking at myself from different angles in the mirror, then looking at pictures of De Niro, I started thinking, “Well, maybe a little, from certain angles.”
I’ve also been accused of looking like Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Kevin Spacey, with the same result; I’d go home and look in the mirror, and after a while, I started seeing it too.
The point I’m making is that there are times in life when, if you want to be somebody or do something, if you can visualize it, you can do or be it.
See, when one person told me I looked like De Niro, I denied it. When multiple people told me, I started seeing the resemblance. After a while, I started feeling like De Niro, maybe even acting like him, a little, sometimes: “Hey, ah’ you talkin’ t’me?” (De Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver)
When you think about it, that’s exactly what De Niro, as Travis Bickle, was doing; he was looking in the mirror, playing the tough guy and guess what--he became one.
Same with Pacino: “You wanna’ play rough? Say hello t’my little friend!” (Pacino, as Tony Montana in Scarface)
The point is that once the idea settled in my head that I might look like these guys, I started believing it. The thought was sort of imprinted somewhere my brain, like a string of code is imprinted onto computer circuits; after all, the brain is just a biological computer, right?
So it can be programmed, right?
The thing is, and what I have come to believe, is that if you can see it, you can do it.
It’s really not a new concept and it’s certainly not 100-percent guaranteed to work every time or your money back. But when you want something badly enough, it’s worth a try.
In my youth, when I lifted weights as one way to stay in shape to keep up with my fellow--and many times younger--Marines, there was a concept that when you were trying to increase the amount you were lifting, just before your attempt, you close your eyes and see yourself doing the lift. Visualize it from start to finish; from the time you pick up the weight to the time you successfully lift it and set it back down.
This concept works; well, it works to a point. Eventually, a physical limit is reached that, if you were to try and surpass it, might actually be detrimental to your physical well-being. I never did get past 315 on the bench press; but when you consider that when I started I was lifting about 135, over the period of a year or two, by increasing the weight in five- and 10-pound increments, and visualizing each increase, I was able to reach higher pinnacles.
As I got older, I’d pass this concept on to younger lifters and it was fulfilling to see others improve by using this simple but effective method.
I’ve used this visualization method in other areas of my life.
For example I sing, and I play guitar to support my singing habit, and I often use backup tracks to support my playing and singing, especially in front of larger crowds. I have had people tell me I sound like Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffet, Joe Walsh and others at various times and places, depending on the song and how much adult beverage they’ve had or tone-deaf they might be. Again, I don’t hear what they’re hearing, but when they tell me that enough I begin to believe it; and ultimately, I think, it makes me better at it.
In order to get up in front of people to play and sing--even for a person like me who is far from professional and highly untrained--you have to first visualize yourself doing it. Well, there is also tons of practice prior to that, but in order to actually get up and do it in front of people, it takes visualization each and every time.
I’ve heard professional performers say the same thing, so I guess I’m not just delusional.
I don’t envision myself ever being professional, and like weight lifting, I guess this visualization concept has its limits with performing as well. I doubt I’ll ever actually take the stage with Garth or Jimmy or Willie, but you can bet that every time I sing one of their songs, I’ll be visualizing that I am.
So, Week-Enders, I guess the point to be made here is that today, Friday March 11, 2016, can be the day you do something you’ve always wanted to do; or at least you can start today. Whatever it is may not happen today, tomorrow or in a week. It might be years down the road.
However, if you don’t listen to the negative naysayers, ignore people telling you why you can’t do it and just close your eyes and see yourself doing it; guess what, the is a no-money-back limited-warrantee guarantee with a not-responsible-for-results clause that suggests it might just happen.
If not, at least you can say you tried.
Randy Gaddo served for 15 years as a director in municipal parks and recreation after retiring from 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He earned his Master’s degree in Public Administration and is now a full-time photojournalist living in Bay Minette, Ala. Reach him at (678) 350-8642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.