What is this? How do you do this? Why would you do this?
All very good questions. I am sure you could find all sorts of literary support and dictionary definitions if you looked for them. You could talk to all sorts of life coaches and mind mappers and even go to yoga after drinking a Perrier water and listening to a motivational tape. (I think podcast is the lingo for tape these days though.).
I’m not trying to be trite…well, maybe a little. But it is to make a point. And here is the point; there are all sorts of ways to gain perspective. I remember years ago moaning to someone about all the crappy things that were going on in my life. And I do mean moaning. It was a very large hole of self pity I was wallowing in. Seriously, it was huge. This friend sat very patiently while I droned on and on about all the things wrong with my life, and she simply said, “Well, that sucks.” And then I caught her rolling her eyes as she looked away. (Maybe her contact lens was off centre and she was trying to adjust it…). And then it hit me, I had become that person to whom others could compare themselves to, so they felt better about their own lives!
I voiced that thought and then laughed hysterically at my own insight. My friend joined me in laughter, with what I presumed to be was some relief at the thought she wasn’t going to have to listen to my moaning any longer!
I wish I knew what it was that made that shift for me, but, at the time of this writing, I do not. However, that being said, I have been on a lengthy road trip with my two sons this week, and as I drive farther and farther away from what is familiar to me on the map, and take new highways, I have had new thoughts. I watched a video once that showed perspective, and for the life of me, I cant find it again. It was a panning out view of someone in their life that stretched out above their house, their neighbourhood, their town, their province, their country, their continent, the planet Earth itself and waaaay beyond into the galaxy. I loved that video.
This road trip has done something like that on a much smaller scale obviously. Driving down these new roads, my pocket of familiar isolation lay within the doors of my minivan. The snacks we packed in our own familiar coolers, the clothes in our duffel bags, and even the charging cords for our devices were known to us and kept where they were placed in our travelling bubble. Every house we passed once we went beyond our normal stomping grounds served to remind me that these people in their houses are unaware of us, or our lives, or of those things stressing us out. They don’t know what bills are on our minds, what health crisis is looming in our family, or the boss left behind to go on this trip. (Metaphorically, Chris. Seriously, your bossmanship is fine.)
The longer I drove, and the more people I passed, I began to sharpen my perspective. Now, 2,500+ km later, I sit on the balcony of an apartment I am staying in for a few days in Vancouver and I am surrounded by millions of people I don’t know, don’t care about and will likely never even meet. The fact that everyone is so insulated in their own lives, gives me pause to think about what exactly I am concerned about in my own, and it is really worth being concerned about?
People think that being a paramedic gives me all the perspective in the world on what is important. To a large degree that is true, and to another degree having personal health issues over the years also gives perspective. With this in mind though, I saw a snippet of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy the other day where Meredith was telling someone that the insites you glean in moments of death fade after a while. This is absolutely true. The value of being able to regenerate a healthy perspective then must surely be something we all should master. We shouldn’t need or hope to have a life threatening emergency in order to value what we have.
The bigger question then lies with us is…How? How do we achieve this? Not everyone can schedule in or afford to go on a long road trip to get this. Nor can they afford to wait until they can.
My best solution to this is to find something new inside of your own sphere that can be done semi-regularly. Is it going on a bike ride down a path you have never ridden? It is reading a type of book never read before? Is it brushing your teeth with the opposite hand? Is it trying a sport or hobby that you have always been interested in, but never done? Is it simply getting off the couch to make happen something you have moaned about wanting to do, but never even tried to accomplish? I had a t-shirt once that I literally wore to rags. It was a quote from Walt Disney that said, “The best way to get started is to stop talking and begin doing.”
Stop talking. Begin doing.
Or as I have been known to say…. Ready. Fire. Aim.