Archives for posts with tag: a matter of perspective

My commute for the last couple days, this week, and the end of last week, have been… pleasant. I’m not sure why, exactly. Planning ahead for heavy traffic due to construction detours, just in case, seemed wise, and I’ve been leaving a bit earlier – on both ends of my work day. The adjustment to my shift did result in an apparent modest reduction in traffic… maybe. People are still people. All the other cars are still driven by those. (People, I mean.) Still, it’s been not at all unpleasant, generally, and this amounts to an improvement in my experience day-to-day – but is it what I think it is (the apparent reduction in traffic) or… is it me?

Is it a change in the facts of my experience, or a change in perspective?

See, around the same time, I also had a conversation with a friend that, although fairly one-sided (it was legitimately more just me talking at them on my way by, pausing for a joyful moment to share an anecdote – about traffic), ended with the realization that I was genuinely struggling with anger while commuting. A proper recognition, fully aware, that ended with a clear statement of acknowledgement, “…and that’s not who I most want to be”. Oh. Oh shit. There are going to be verbs involved, right? I went on with things, in the usual way, at the time…but… it sat with me, then, and still lingers in my thoughts.

The awareness changed my perspective.

My change in perspective changed my behavior.

I’ve been getting into the car since then, calmly aware that traffic is, and that I’m going to have to deal with it. The commute is not a fucking race, there is no specific time that I firmly must arrive at my destination – and when there is, the wiser thing is to plan the time it actually takes, of course, not fuss about how much less time that should be, or try to force the universe to comply with my expectations of that. I suspect it may not actually have been the traffic that changed all that much, although one bit of construction finally wrapped up that was going on along my route. (Actually, to be fair, I only suspect that; I altered my route days ago to avoid that mess, and don’t really know.) I’ve also grabbed hold of some perspective, and slowed down a bit; there’s no sense at all being aggravated by traffic if what is aggravating me is the “slow” progress – at the posted speed limit. That just seems fairly silly, given some thought. (I’ll thank my Traveling Partner for that reminder, next time I see him.)

Perspective is an amazing cognitive tool. A favorite. Why? Because it does not matter one bit whether the traffic is actually reduced, or my emotional resilience is improved through a shift in perspective – not at all. Our experience of life is not always about “objective truth” or “facts” or “reality”, and sometimes what needs a change is our experience, itself. What matters most is that, by shifting my perspective, I’m closer to being that human being I most want to be, enjoying my experience more, treating others well, and discharging less unwarranted rage or hate into the world.¬† Those are both emotions that poison the one feeling them, and they often seem to result from nothing more than frustration – and lost perspective. Ick. I don’t need that in my life.

Now to apply the amazing power of perspective to all of the everything else in life…

…It’s time to begin again. ūüėÄ

When I am on a long road trip, I watch eagerly for the signs alerting¬†drivers of some near by roadside attraction, monument, historical marker, or ‘view point’. I stop for the ones that appeal to me, and stop even for less appealing ones when I am fatigued. It breaks the monotony of driving, which develops over time, even though I enjoy driving. I often see very cool things I’d have otherwise missed, adding to a lifetime of interesting experiences that become part of the person I am. Occasionally, there turns up a peculiar ‘nothing to see here’ moment, when some roadside ‘view point’ turns out to be nothing more interesting than a pull off, and a distant but unremarkable vista. I bring who I am to each of these experiences, and enjoy the potential to walk away more experienced, and thereby more who I am becoming.

Our perspective really matters; it changes what we are able to observe.

Our perspective really matters; it changes what we are able to observe.

I find something interesting in the above paragraph, if viewed as a metaphor; how easily I pull off the road to see something I haven’t seen, or even may have seen, but from a different¬†perspective – and how difficult it can sometimes be in conversation with another to do the same in the moment – to metaphorically ‘pull off on the side of the road, and take a look at something from a different point of view’. I don’t personally place a positive value on ‘being right’, in spite of the cultural emphasis on that characteristic. Vile things are said and done by human beings to other human beings – even loved ones – in the name of ‘being right’. How easily I fail to take time to look at something, someone, through beginner’s eyes, though… and in spite of not being concerned about ‘being right’ on some detail, I can easily find myself defending my position against someone else’s perception of my ‘being wrong’. It’s an easy misstep to make on a journey, and in a relationship; defensiveness is the flip side of needing to be right. I woke this morning with this particular thought in my mental buffer. I wonder what I was dreaming, and¬†if it was the byproduct of my brain working through the details of yesterday?

I had a particularly emotionally challenging conversation with my traveling partner, yesterday. It reached a point where it was profoundly emotional, and I was definitely on the defensive; I had a strong sense I wasn’t being understood. (As it turned out, I was well-understood, but didn’t recognize that, myself, although he courteously said the things he understood would communicate that understanding, I just wasn’t quite ‘getting it’.) If the conversation had developed differently, I would have been very receptive to the information my partner was sharing; somewhere as the conversation developed, however, I found myself assuming I wasn’t being understood, because the information provided to me didn’t address what I said the way I expected it to be addressed…and because of that, I perceived a disagreement that wasn’t in fact present. He offered me new knowledge and a better understanding of the discussion (we were talking about the use of meta-discussion versus discussion of singular now events as methods of shared discussion of needs, and where one or the other is more suitable to growth, change, or harmonious dialogue). I returned the favor with some tears, and frustrated confusion; he was duly frustrated and confused as well, and irked by the tears. I was too. We easily got past it once we both recognized that I had begun to approach the dialogue defensively, and feeling attacked, even though the conversation had begun in the abstract. We took time to comfort each other, to acknowledge missteps, hurt feelings, and to be frankly accountable for our own role there. We returned to the basic points we were each making in the original abstract, and fairly academic discussion, and recognized the value of each – and of each of us to each other as well. Smiles were shared around, and hugs – and bacon. lol. The entire conversation happened in the span of time it takes to cook bacon. That’s real growth for me; there was a time in my life that bullshit might have lingered for days, with me storming around in a childish funk for no real reason. Instead, I enjoyed learning, growth, and connecting with my partner… he still had to endure a few moments of tears from a partner who is to all outward appearances a grown woman who could be expected to be beyond childish tantrums, and needless tears (and clearly isn’t). He did, though, and graciously moved on from the moment without further difficulty.

So much more than meets the eye.

So much more than meets the eye.

Yesterday was lovely. It ended in moonlight and a phone call alerting me that the northern lights were visible… wherever my traveling partner found himself last night. I eagerly stepped outside hoping to see them, myself. Alas, no. A¬†great huge blight on the view of the night (an Intel facility a couple blocks away) reduces the night sky, generally, to inky black, with only a moon to see. It hung in the night, luminous and pale, and I stood in the coolness, in the soft darkness, listening to the distant sounds of traffic, and machinery, and contemplating the dense starry sky from the view of my campsite a couple of weekends ago. I miss that particular night sky, full of stars; it reminded me of the night sky in the desert, although I could only see patches of it through the trees. That too is a beautiful metaphor; there is so much more than we can see. Even in my own experience, some one negative moment can loom so large in my awareness that it blots out the¬†beauty, the delight, a pleasant and unfulfilled now, or the recollection of how wonderful life actually is, generally. ¬†A nice observation to carry around for the future. Useful perspective.

As I write, I hear my traveling partner arrive home from his Saturday night out. It’s not quite dawn. I feel that sense of relief and security that he is safe and near. A hug, a smile, a moment of quiet conversation; all seems well in the world.

A new day beginning. Today is a good day for love, and a good day to treat love well. Today is a good day to practice The Big 5, even on myself. Today is a good day to take care of me, and share smiles generously. Today is a good day to experience life from a perspective of joy and wonder. Today is a good day to change the world.

What defines something as ‘right’? What makes something ‘enough’? Before we go too far down a philosopher’s rabbit hole, let me clarify – my questions are less about the semantics or meanings of those words relative to other words or ideas, and more about how does an individual determine that some one event, action, outcome, or experience fits the description? I keep bumping my nose on what seems to be an answer – and I admit that I’m not much of a fan of ‘answers’ lately; the questions convey more, for me, most of the time. Still, an answer to one question sometimes forms the basis of other questions just as worthy of consideration… and in this case, the ‘answer’ is kind of a big deal. Perspective. Yep, I am still meditating on perspective. The painting is unfinished, and the contemplation of the work as metaphor, as studious reflection and examination of experience, and as its own creative experience, keep me coming back again and again to life lessons about perspective. ¬†There are those that required perspective to complete, and those that resulted in greater perspective once completed – and depending on my perspective in contemplation, a whole lot of life experiences open themselves up to being viewed as instructive on perspective. ¬†Perspective is a big deal. ¬†It is becoming an iceberg in my studies; so many things turn out to be relevant to matters of perspective.

I started the weekend focused on some pretty specific needs and desires. ¬†I went into it with limited known resources, and an understanding that circumstances and the free will of others would predictably bring a few unknowns to confound any planning. ¬†I try not to notice how little of the weekend remains… It’s been a lovely one. ¬†Perspective has been a big deal for enjoying it. ¬†If I had remained fixed on expectations, or investing heavily in my needs at the expense of a more connected experience, I could have been sitting here unhappily wallowing in discontent. I know, because I’ve done it in the past.

I’ve allowed myself a different experience today by identifying the successes as they happen, and appreciating those, and enjoying them, instead of zeroing in on some specific one thing or experience that I wanted and didn’t get. ¬†I’m still learning a lot about relationships and happiness and intimacy and sharing life and love. ¬†Learning to ‘take care of me’ sometimes feels like a mandate to make demands or insist that my needs must be met. ¬†My own experience with meeting the needs of my loved ones is that I’m not always up to it, or able to with available resources, or may be unwilling to for some reason that seems appropriate or necessary to me in-the-moment; I can safely infer that is also their experience with meeting my needs. lol. ¬†Knowing we are each having our own experience, and each have our own needs to be met, it actually seems pretty inevitable that sometimes some needs are unmet. ¬†That’s how it was this weekend – some needs were met, others were not. Funny thing, it really seems now that the needs that got met were more urgent or more important… or more… worthy… than what I thought I needed to start with. lol. ¬†A lesson in perspective, and also a lesson in ‘going with it’ instead of fussing and trying to force the flow of events.

It’s been a lovely weekend, and incredibly intimate. It wasn’t the intimacy I expected. It was, however, very much the intimacy I needed. ūüėÄ