Today, I considered telling a story about something that happened nearly two weeks ago. While I’m OK, it was frightening at the time, and throughout the coming days, that fear turned to anxiety and frustration before giving way to gratitude and hope. After some internal “back and forth,” I decided to pack that story away for another time and instead talk about something that came out of that experience: perspective.
The world, and every part of it, is in constant motion, always changing. So, too, our own world -- the tiny orbits in which we all live – is constantly in flux; everything from our skin cells to the performance of our vehicles, our relationships, and the way we get things done at home, at work and everywhere we go.
Every time we wake up to meet another day, step out the door, see our family and friends, or take breath, the world is a different place.
Over the past few weeks, several things have occurred in my own orbit that have caused me to take pause, reflect and gain a new and hopefully better perspective on my life, the world, and my place in it as it – and I – constantly change and adapt.
I won’t go into detail about those events and experiences (maybe someday I’ll share), but they were both internal and external, physical and emotional, “big-picture” and super closeup. These experiences, many of them everyday and ordinary, others rather extraordinary and dare I say “out of body,” stopped me in my tracks, made me slow down, think, take stock and consider how I’d move forward based on this new information, and my new “position” in the world around me.
A friend of mine has the word “perspective” tattooed on her forearm. Though I have no desire to get a tattoo (it’s just not my thing, but I support you if you have them), I like it. It has meaning, it’s positive and it offers a constant, permanent reminder to put things in their places, to understand what’s important (and when), with an awareness that our individual perspectives – our points of view, priorities and needs – provide a moving roadmap for where we are today and where we want to go.
That’s exactly what’s been on my mind these past two weeks: all the things encompassed by that one tattoo, that one word: perspective.
I’ll butcher this quote, I’m sure, but it goes something like this: “Don’t spend more than five minutes worrying about something that won’t matter in five years.” (Again, apologies to whomever coined it.) Like Jenny’s tattoo, that quote, in a nutshell, is perspective. And for some reason (maybe it’s my age, taking more time to think lately, specific experiences I’ve had both positive and negative or “just ‘cuz”), I’ve really started to think about my perspective on things, and how I’ll pursue the coming weeks, and the months and years that follow.
If done correctly (and there are endless ways to do it “right”), perspective helps us live better lives, doesn’t it? I mean, if I can properly “triage” what’s important to me, and how that affects others as I go about my day, won’t I be happier, and also contribute more to the world around me?
Of course, much of this relies on the “what’s important to me” part of the equation. If what’s important to me is stuff that negatively affects or harms me or others, I’m probably “doing it wrong.” Of course, if that’s how you choose to pursue your perspective, who am I to tell you you can’t? But I will say if you or I take that approach, it’s probably not going to end in sustainable happiness or satisfaction (just my opinion; you’re free to think otherwise).
Anyway, before this gets too sappy, let’s just say I’ve been thinking lately, and not the “squirrel-esque” type of random, chaotic, mind-sprinting thoughts that so often occupy my head, but real, intentional contemplation. And what I’ve decided is that I need more perspective: year to year, month to month, week to week, day to day, minute to minute.
Because the world – and my world – has changed. It has changed in the time I’ve spent writing this, and it will continue to change every second I’m still alive and kicking. Therefore, I owe to myself – and to you, and to the world – to do whatever I can to help create the best days of our lives.
Do I need a tattoo to remind me? Probably, but I don’t think I’ll get one. Do I need to learn that “Five minutes/five years” quote so I can use it as a mantra? I guess. But for me, I think my best strategy is to remain thoughtful, to keep my eyes open, to slow down when I feel things getting away and my “squirreliness” is taking over, and to intentionally live for what’s truly important to me, and to actively recognize and respect what’s important to others, so I can understand their perspectives as well.
© 2021 David R. Haznaw