The Gift of Perspective
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** This post is part of a 14 day series. To read more of my “The Gift of…” posts, scroll to the bottom of this post for links.
A new friend and I stand together talking about life and such things when the topic comes around to the farm I think she lives on.
“Oh, I don’t live on a farm,” she corrects me. “But, oh my word, I would love to.”
“You should come up to my farm,” I say.
She looks at me with wide, excited eyes.
“Don’t even kid me!” she says. “I would love to come to your farm. I would pack my bags and be there tomorrow!”
And as I watch her get more excited as we talk, I realize what it is I can see behind her eyes: complete and genuine awe for the life that I live.
I giggle because I think it’s cute she’s so excited about chickens and carrots and a big red barn and cutting wood.
I remember when I used to be just like her.
Then I giggle again—but this time, uncomfortably. Because I realize her excitement raises a question for me: when did I stop being awestruck about my own life?
When did I lose my perspective?
Sometimes we need other people—or the situations they live within—to explain our own life to us and offer perspective on what’s right in front of our face.
Perspective most often comes from tragedy.
A couple days later, I drive home from Christmas shopping with my sons, a little on edge because of crowds and family drama and money and will we have enough firewood. But really I’m mostly thinking about a friend who just found out that her two-month-old daughter has brain cancer.
Do not skip over those words.
I remember scrolling through Facebook and seeing her posts like they found three tumors and she needs more testing and finally they confirmed it was brain cancer sprinkled in between posts from other people about why your kids don’t need so many toys under the tree and how to have a stressfree Christmas.
And it felt odd and strange and out of place.
And I kept scrolling backwards hoping I had misread something.
Hoping something would reload and say it was a mistake.
Hoping something would glitch and take away the posts and make them not true.
While I steer the car home and wonder what to buy my mother-in-law for Christmas and contemplate how to fit in all the December 25th festivities, my friend prepares to spend her daughter’s first Christmas in the hospital.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch sight of my two teen boys. Metallica and Blind Guardian blasts through their earbuds—they’re staring out the car window, off in their own world.
I keep my eyes on the road, but it is blurry.
I feel petty. And ungrateful.
And I can’t see the damn road.
Perspective: everyone’s chaos is different.
It was not so long ago that I was trying to put together a special surprise after-work Thanksgiving meal for my husband—trying so hard to get it just so. Would everything turn out right?
Zipping around the kitchen and baking and cooking and fixing and making in my own little self-induced world of chaos.
But there is a stark difference between the chaos of trying to put together a special meal for my husband, and the chaos of him having spent Thanksgiving Day dealing with things like a woman who tried to slit her wrists but stopped because it hurt too much to continue.
Suddenly, the level of juiciness attained within the turkey I’ve made matters a whole lot less.
Everyone’s chaos is different. Our reality—the way we view everything that happens in front of our face, the way we imagine what could be or remember what was—it’s all different.
And we need to understand that, because it matters.
Get perspective: step out of your comfort zone.
We live together on a planet called Earth, but we’re all walking in different worlds, seeing Life pass by with different eyes. The world that exists within the six inches between our ears is completely different than the six inches between any other human beings’ ears, alive or dead.
Getting perspective is taking a look at our life and figuring out what’s going on. Why we do the things we do. What’s working. What’s not.
And if it even matters.
We can get the best perspective on what’s going on in our lives by stepping out of our comfort zones. When we sit in discomfort, we get a whole heck of a lot of perspective on who we are, why we do what we do, and what we need to change.
The problem is that humans tend to be a bit slow about the whole thing, and don’t really get the perspective we need until a giant tragedy pops that tough bubble we live in.
We don’t see what we have until we watch someone else get theirs taken away.
Why is that?
Why are we like that?
So many of us are just walking around, doing what we do, the same as we’ve always done—even if it’s completely different than everyone else’s Same.
We’re just…numb. Our day passes in front of our face without us really seeing anything or anyone even though there are so many things and people all around us. We’re frozen and indifferent and asleep.
And then tragedy strikes in one form or another. And we wake up.
We spend time in deep thought trying to figure things out.
And we gain this amazing thing called Perspective. And for a few moments we know why we’re doing what we’re doing. Our choices are validated. We’re suddenly thankful for those around us.
Our eyes are so wide open.
We get it.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could get perspective without the tragedy? If we could look at our kids and remember how important they are everyday just because we see them every day? If we could hug our spouse tighter simply because they are our spouse, and not because someone else just lost theirs?
Alas, tragedy is the only way some people’s eyes are ever opened.
That’s a really ugly truth, and I wish it weren’t so.
Perspective. When you get it, that’s a gift.
But perspective without tragedy?
Now that would really be something.
THIS POST IS PART OF A 14 DAY SERIES, WRITTEN ACROSS BOTH SITES THAT I RUN.
Gift #1 — The Gift of an Open Door
Gift #2 — The Gift of One of Those Days
Gift #3 —The Gift of a Dog’s Friendship
Gift #4 — The Gift of Mess
Gift #5 — The Gift of Our Silence
Gift #6 — The Gift of Routine
Gift #7 — The Gift of Community
Gift #8 — The Gift of Three Things Unsaid
Gift #9 — The Gift of Perspective
Gift #10 — The Gift of Being Real
Gift #11 — The Gift of a Bowl of Corn
Gift #12 — The Gift of Encouragement
Gift #13 — The Gift of Unanswered Prayers
Gift #14 — The Gift of Actually Listening