It’s true. Sometimes, you skate through life, smiling and wiping the bugs out of your eyes as you head down the highway. Other days, you struggle to climb out of bed, wondering how you ended up on the wrong side again.
We have an art book at home, that teaches kids about perspective. Gunnar was looking at the book in church. I glanced over to give him the evil eye, but catching the page upside down, I saw an image I hadn’t seen before. Instead of giving the mom-glare, I grabbed the book and looked closer. Funny. I hadn’t looked at it from that perspective, and the entire image changed.
Life offers us opportunities every day to shift our perspective and see things from a different angle.
It started with Gunnar in church. Instead of glaring at him for reading a book and not paying attention, I realized that it is hard for a ten-year-old boy to sit still for an hour of talking. It’s hard for many adults to sit still for an hour of talking. He was trying to be respectful and quiet.
I received more lessons in perspective after we left church. Letting Samantha drive us home gave me a completely new perspective, from the passenger seat. I tried not to bark instructions, as she concentrated on the clutch, the blinker, checking over her shoulder and changing lanes. I realized that she wasn’t deliberately driving badly to irritate me. Driving takes a lot of concentration and the ability to do several things at once. With everyone in the car shouting instructions, it’s a miracle we arrived home in one piece. From Samantha’s perspective, there was so much noise, distraction and traffic, it was hard for her to know where to focus. From my perspective, teenagers are lousy drivers. When I shifted my own perspective, I was able to see things from her seat, and I realized that I block out a lot.
As we were driving into town, I sat at the stop sign and sighed, “Geez. Look at all this traffic.”
Lexi piped up from the back, “Mom. It’s four cars. That’s not traffic.”
Right. A different perspective: I’m used to being the only car on the road in the morning, or one of only a very few. Waiting at a stop sign for four cars, well, that seems like traffic.
Other people offer great lessons in perspective. You know the proverb about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. “I cried the blues because I had no shoes, until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet.” Denis Whatley
There’s some more perspective for you. Just when you think you have it rough, you meet someone who’s got it worse.
While I’ve been chided for being a Polly-Anna, I maintain that it’s all a matter of perspective. If you expect to see the worst, then you certainly will. If you expect the best in people, you will see that.
A Zen story illustrates this truth quite well. A man was moving to a new village, and he wanted to find out what type of people lived there. He asked the Zen master, “What type of people live here? Will I like this village?”
The Zen master replied, “What were the people like where you come from?”
The man told him they were angry, mean, nasty and greedy.
“I’m afraid you will find the same type of people living here.”
A second newcomer to the village later asked the same question. His answer to the Zen master: “The people in my village are kind, helpful, respectful and loving.”
The Zen master told the man, “Then you will like this village very much, because those are the exact type of people we have living here.”
It’s all a matter of perspective. You choose how to look at the world, and what you look for, you will find. If you don’t like what you see, perhaps its time to change your perspective.