Gaining Perspective

When I was about eleven, Mary Whitehead, our art teacher, asked the class to draw a typical street scene. We had two hours to complete our works of art and then she would tell us what she thought. I dutifully drew the High Street, the shops, people out shopping and a few cars, typical Saturday afternoon scene. I have to admit that the cars were very square-ish…boxy.. and the people…even the dogs…square-ish but I was reasonably pleased with my effort and thought Mary wouldn’t have much to quibble about over it.

So she sat down beside me, hummed and ha-ed a bit and then said, “look, it’s a very good attempt but can you see what’s wrong with the cars?” I said they were very boxy and even the wheels weren’t very round… and she said “no, that’s not the problem I have with this, it’s the size of the cars in relation to the background that’s a bit off, your cars are too small for the foreground, the people in the background are much bigger, your perspective is all wrong, the cars need to be much bigger or the background much smaller, you need to get some perspective..”

God, you were so right, weren’t you Mary? It takes more than a few years to gain perspective and once you have it then you view the world and all those around you differently, you tend not to sweat the petty stuff (or is it not pet the sweaty stuff?) . Spending twelve years of your life working as an ICU nurse certainly gives you perspective and I’m 51 now and I can look back over the last five decades at what I’ve learnt and some things come to mind;

  • Our children help us grow just as much as we help them grow. I’ve spend a lot of time teaching my two boys lessons and trying to give them perspective early but it hasn’t been a one way street, as much as I’ve tried teaching them life lessons I’ve also learnt just as much, if not more, from them, we learn just as much from our kids as we teach them.
  • And the older I get, the wiser I get. Duh! I gain more wisdom but crucially it seems that as I get older and wiser that I know nearly everything – about less and less. And I have a sneaking suspicion that by the time I shed this mortal coil I shall know absolutely everything there is to know – about absolutely nothing.
  • You don’t realise it but we live our lives as examples to others, examples of how to be, how to live, how to love. Some souls are quite content to treat others shitty, that’s the example they are setting, but it’s not an example you have to follow. And just to make you a little paranoid, everyone is watching you, they are watching you for cues, give them good examples.
  • It doesn’t have to be this way. Happiness is a choice. Life may have dealt you a pretty dire hand of cards and you may see no future but the remainder of your life – the life your previous years have programmed you for – doesn’t have to happen, nothing’s wrote in stone. You are allowed to break your programming, you are allowed to go beyond your programming, no matter how badly some souls have treated you in the past you can forgive them, you can break the cycle and become something or someone much much more.
  • There are very few things in life that don’t change, given enough time nearly all things come to an end, one of the only few constants is change, if you want to grow then embrace change, it’s not a challenge, it’s an opportunity. The key word there is ‘if’, not everyone wants to grow.
  • Regrets, we all have them but the purpose of life is to have as few as possible, no-one’s perfect, I certainly am not, I have lots of regrets, but I’m willing to bet I have slighter fewer than you.
  • “The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.” –Eckhart Tolle.
    Very true Mr Tolle, though it’s still a good idea to pay our bills, feed our children and pay taxes so social security can pay benefit to unemployed blissed out 29yr old Germans sitting in Russel Square, ..but true Mr Tolle…very very true..you earned your money with that one sentence.