Drinking my coffee today, I was looking out of the window of my home office…. I wonder if I will miss this pretty view when I finally sell my home. Suddenly, the garbage truck stops in front of my home to pick up the week’s trash.
Wait, what happened to the trees just starting to turn green? My beautiful dogwood tree was gone. The seemingly ancient tree that holds the swing on which all three of my kids sat… poof! gone, only to return a few moments later.
No surprise to those who know me well, but this got me to thinking. My view was the same; what was different was the perspective. My ability to see was being blocked by the truck.
A seemingly powerful idea, it really only has value if we admit that it exists. What do I mean? Well, if we state that what we see is fact, rather than perspective, we can come up with a different view or story.
Continuing my thoughts over another cup of coffee, I thought about what else can act like the truck, as a block, to not only color what we see, but what we think we see or the story we tell.
Wow. OK, this might be helpful. There are certain ideas that I want to believe in, but I can’t seem to get there because I demand logic.
One of my favorite literary characters is from no other than To Kill a Mockingbird. My favorite quote, from that book, and one of my favorites from all time is of course, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Harper Lee summed up so eloquently what I have tried to say so many times in my life… and what I have heard others try to express so many times themselves.
Please don’t tell me that it doesn’t hurt… I have a right to my opinion…. It’s not fair…or this morning, had that moment been frozen in time…. my trees are gone.
Had I gotten up from my desk to step around it, I could see the trees, or looked at the view from my neighbor’s house across the street, I would see that the trees were still there.
Another cup of coffee, and I continued my mental list of how this might apply in my life.
These blockages can be concrete items like trucks blocking actual items like trees, but they can, I believe be more esoteric and less obvious. Thoughts that are a result of upbringing, religion, poverty, wealth, obesity, sickness, aging, or just about any demographic can color what we see as “our story” or our “truth”.
So, what am I not seeing?
What are you not seeing?
A perfect example is the following event. I blamed my ex husband for sending his young daughter to the same camp and dance school that my daughter attends. My perspective and my story were colored by my anger and my pain. How could he? Why would he do this to me? And the words uttered so many times before. I hate him.
Of course I hate him, or maybe strongly dislike him, but it is not because of the above act. I have many other reasons for that.
Following my thought processes this morning, and thinking in terms of his perspective, or his view, I can come up with multiple reasons why he felt as though he was doing the right thing when he made those choices.
1. He receives a substantial discount at both the camp and the dance school for the sibling discount.
2. Fear of overlapping events such as recitals for enrolling in competing dance schools or camps.
*** Sadly, I found these reasons out after exploding at him via email. If I had taken the time to think a little more and attempt to understand his perspective when he made that choice, I might have saved myself a great deal of stress and a little embarrassment.
So, I end this here with some food for thought. Is it worth stepping outside of your desk, or as Atticus suggests, walking in the shoes of another before responding?
I think it might be. We don’t need to change our views, but we do need to understand that there may just be another perspective and therefore, another way to respond.