Pour a Cup of Perspective
Recently, I feared that I had nothing to keep my creative momentum going! I will not be meeting my goal of 52 blogs in 52 weeks, I have run out of things to write about, and I lost track of why I started this project in the first place! And then, it just hit me, have some perspective, girl! You set out to make this a “year of creativity,” and that you have done!
So, this blog is about perspective. Pour a cup of decaf and indulge me for a minute.
What is perspective?
1. the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.
2. a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
When I was very little, and very short, I looked through a sea of grown up legs, dancing in the basement of my cousin’s house on Christmas Eve. I have a distinct memory of an anxious feeling, as I searched for my parents. From my perspective, of probably two feet tall, all the legs looked the same. Pants and black shoes, or stockings and high heels. The most distinct part of this early memory, is of what happened next. I found it! The familiar leg! The one attached to my father! Such a relief, as I grabbed his leg and held on tight, clinging to his knee. Imagine that little girl then looking up and suddenly changing her perspective, realizing that the face attached to the knee was not that of her daddy, but that of a strange man! And then imagine that at the same moment, all the grown up faces start laughing. Go ahead, visualize it in technicolor, slow motion. I’m not sure exactly how it all played out, but I know it involved me crying, and hanging onto this painful memory for all these decades! If only I had seen things from a different view point! If only I had been taller! I would have had a different perspective!
From the Other Side
I talk a lot about perspective in my job. Parents of preschoolers and high schoolers alike, often struggle with the notion that the difficult times with their children will last forever. They don’t have the long-term perspective of someone who is on the other end, and can see things from the outside. We talk about perceiving things from a different angle. Their children will grow and make progress. And while there will be new challenges, they will not be stuck in, what feels like a dark spot, forever. Year after year, I have parents reflect back to me that they never thought they would get through it. And yet here they are, on the other side, still facing things, but with the wisdom of perspective.
Of course, as we all do, I too lose my perspective. I can get frustrated with something at work, irritated and disappointed that things don’t go my way, and simply because I am human, become angry because I want things to work in my favor. I really need to listen to the words I offer to parents more often, and complain less.
Remember how our parents used to dangle the guilt over us with the “There are starving children in Biafra,” comment? It was a reminder that we should eat our food and not complain, because our lives were so much better than those of the poor, starving children in Biafra. It was how we were taught to have perspective. Guilt was involved, but nonetheless, it was a lesson in perspective. The kind of lesson that encourages us to see the less fortunate as a reason for us to feel more fortunate. So, we are supposed to feel better because they feel worse? That just never sat well with me.
What if we could have the advantage of perspective without making it in relation to something less than? I remember a few years ago, hearing on the radio, that Pope Francis spoke to the astronauts as they viewed the earth from the space station. From that vantage point, the earth was not seen as a mass of water and land, with wars and suffering, but as a beautiful community free from conflict. I looked it up. It was actually the astronaut Randy Bresnik who commented that his greatest joy was to see the earth “… from maybe a different perspective… no borders, no conflict, its just peaceful.”
Ambassador of Perspective
Recently, a friend, who is going through an unusually horrific time, has become my new ambassador of perspective. She is seeing life through a different lens now, and has thus changed the viewpoint of many around her. We can agree that the world is imploding and the Voldemort energy is extreme. Just pay attention to the news, the political climate, the climate change, and the human condition in much of the world. It is enough to make you want to climb into bed and give up. Yet, this amazing friend shared that none of that can touch her anymore. It doesn’t permeate her perspective now, because her world, the view from where she sits, is filled with love. Lots and lots of love and support coming her way to help her. At a time when her perspective could be so grim and so lost, it is quite the opposite. What she sees is the beauty of the people around her. That is the power of what can happen when people make a choice to shift their view to the positive. She doesn’t need to see her life as better, because someone else’s is worse. Or to see her life as devastating, and everyone else’s as great. She just chooses to take in all the positive messages around her and see them as more powerful than the negative ones.
As you can imagine, I find the concept simple, yet profoundly impactful, and much more difficult to embody than it appears! To change one’s perspective, really can empower us. And empowerment is always a good thing. Don’t you agree?
So, I don’t know about you, but I’m just gonna keep reminding myself to look up, BEFORE I grab on to the wrong leg!