A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation about perspective that has stayed with me. Perspective has to do with view point, and literally means “through looking closely”. Each of us has our own perspective and that’s what I have been pondering…how perspectives differ and what that means to my journey.
I’ve come to realize that none of us can share the exact same perspective. My view, from where I am standing on my journey, is going to be different from yours. Perhaps vastly different. That doesn’t make my perspective the only one or the right one, nor does that mean yours are such. It just means we are each seeing what we can see, and talking about that, responding to it, learning from it.
We may both be traveling up a mountain. From where I am standing, I see a beautiful bay with a turquoise sea. From your vantage point on the other side of the mountain, as far as you can see are rolling sand dunes in a dry desert, beautiful in its own way. As I communicate my perspective, you just can’t see it. Try as you might, there are only waves of shimmering heat appearing before you. As you share your perspective, I can’t see it either. Water stretches out before me and I can’t even imagine what you are describing.
Which of us has the correct perspective? Neither of us. We are simply describing what we see. We can argue about who is right. We can disbelieve the other’s account, since we can’t see it, ridiculing each other. Or we can make up stories about who is right and call it truth.
The truth is…we are all on our own individual journeys. We are all in different places on the great journey called Life. And we can only perceive what’s around us. Some of us may be climbing to exhilarating heights, surrounded by beauty. Some of us may be crouched among huge rocks in the dirt, looking for a way out. Some are experiencing a challenging walk through a dark forest, feeling their way. It may be sunshine where you are. It may be pouring rain where I am. If at any time we pause and describe our view, it will differ from the rest of the travelers. No one is better than any other journeyer. We are seeing what we can see. We have different perspectives because we are in different places.
Even when we have companions walking alongside, sharing in the journey, our perspectives will differ. Because what catches my attention and my interest won’t necessarily catch yours. I may notice the flowers in bloom and the tall trees while you are captivated by the mountains in the distance and the interesting clouds in the sky. If we relate our experiences to each other, we may wonder if the other person was really even there.
Here is what pondering on perspective has opened up for me. We are all traveling through life…or camped out beside the path for a little rest when we grow weary. Your perspective may vary from mine, because you are in a different place than I am…further up the trail or on a different path entirely. I can only see what’s around me and you can only see what’s around you. I’m not right or wrong in what I’m describing, I’m just in a different location. Like the maps at the mall that have an arrow saying, “You are here”, if we could rise high enough to see the Big Map, there would be billions of arrows indicating each person’s location. No one is in the same place or the wrong place. They are exactly where they are supposed to be.
Knowing this frees me from judging another’s journey, another’s perspective. Knowing this keeps me from seeing myself as right and you as wrong. We are all doing the best that we can, in this moment, as we figure out how best to make our way in life. I can be gracious to others. I can accept others. I can focus on my journey. We can offer guidance to one another…”I’ll tell you how I made it through that deep valley”. We can allow others to forge a new path, and let them accomplish something that hasn’t been done before.
We can reach out with a helping hand as we near a peak, and stand together in appreciation for making the climb. We can empathize with others who are standing amid the boulders because we too have stood there. Most of all, we can encourage each other to keep going, because the views change and we grow stronger as we journey, creating fresh perspectives.
Tonight, the ladies of the book club offered encouragement to me. I wasn’t sure I was going to do this blog post. As I drove to the meeting I put the question out there, asking for clear direction. Our chapters had nothing to do with perspective and yet the flow of conversation this evening centered around that very topic. I sat quietly, listening, already hearing confirmation as the word perspective continued to come up. These beautiful women, on their own amazing journeys, were unknowingly giving me a Yes. Then Margit said while sharing “You are here…”, which was the title I had already selected for this blog post. That made me smile. And I knew. How I love this journey. And how I love and appreciate yours. You are here. I am here. And it’s the perfect place for us at this moment.