Reddit has a fascinating feed known as “Shower Thoughts” — a stream of random thoughts and nuggets of wisdom that were, hypothetically, conjured in that brief span of time each day we spend cleansing our minds and bodies. Some of these really crack me up and are just pure humor. Some aren’t as funny as the writer intended. Some just give you a “ha! Never thought of that!” moment. But interestingly, the ones that intrigue me the most demonstrate the use of perspective. Sometimes when you look at things from a different angle, you see them quite differently. And by ‘things’, I don’t necessarily mean physical things (though, that too), but the intangible things. For example:
“You know you’re getting old when you agree with the antagonist in teen movies. The principal in “Ferris Bueller” was just trying to make sure a troubled teen got an education, and he’s the bad guy?”
Now, if you’re a kid reading this, you’re probably thinking “Who the heck is Ferris Bueller?” But if you’re an adult, like me (as in, not old, but old enough to remember being a kid), your reaction will likely be similar to mine. Ironically, I was just thinking something similar the other day while listening to Simple Minds “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, which made me think of watching Breakfast Club. It struck me that “wow – Principal Vernon was just trying to help those kids and they really worked him over!” While once I sided entirely with the kids, now I find myself empathizing with the adult. (In writing this, I discovered an awesome blog discussing this exact point – check it out!)
So what changed? Simply put, it was my perspective. As a kid, I could only see things from a kid’s point of view. Now that I’m grown, I’ve discovered the other side of the fence. But I’m not forgetful, either. Some folks are — they lose touch with their ‘inner child’, and forget what it was like being young. Or they are so ‘set’ in their current position that they can’t bend to look and see what the view is like from elsewhere. But aside from reflecting on childhood, the ability to recognize perspective can have a great impact. It can teach us about things like right and wrong, good and bad, and forgiveness and tolerance.
Sometimes we rush to put folks on a pedestal, and we lose our perspective. We ‘whitewash’ the elements of a person that we want to forget, usually those which do not fit the image we want to have in our minds. This typically occurs with famous people, especially the likes of those who have done ‘great things’ or who are well-accomplished. It’s easy to highlight the lines we want to read and skim over the rest. For example, Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, Dr. Martin Luther King plagiarized (and cheated on his wife), Mark Wahlburg was once charged with attempted murder for a racially motivated attack that left a guy blind, and Kim Kardashian made a video (that I will not link here) that should definitely prevent any girl from looking up to her. But yet, people still flock to these people. Why?!
In three days, Donald Trump will be our 45th President. Maybe you voted for him, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you like him, maybe you don’t. Maybe you preached unity and tolerance until the election turned out differently than you hoped. Maybe you fear the worst, or just you just know things will be bad. Or maybe you think the next four years will be just what the doctor ordered. Do we really know? I can say one thing with certainty, and be 100% correct — I really do not know. None of us truly do. We can only speculate, based upon how we view past events. We paint pictures based on what we see — but does yours looks like everyone else’s? Is the other person wrong because they saw something different? Does your painting have any shades of gray? After all, who amongst us can predict the future? So regardless of where you stand now, maybe your picture will change with time (for better or worse). Perhaps all we need is to find is a little perspective.