Some Perspective on Perspective
I’ve long said that perspective is easy to find and difficult to keep. Recently, it dawned on me why: Perspective has become an excuse not to find solutions for our problems. We often just sweep our challenges under the perspective rug instead of cleaning them up. Just because we’re grateful for what we have doesn’t mean we have perspective.
I was talking to a friend of mine and he was complaining about a problem he was having at work. It was the usual kind of situation we’ve all be in at one time or another; his boss is a tool (to cut to the chase). He explained how his boss belittles him in front of the rest of his team because (he thinks) his boss is threatened by him. At the conclusion of his rant, however, my friend said, “But I shouldn’t bitch. I have my health and I think about what happened in Arizona and it gives me great perspective.
We’re both dads. And, like all parents, our hearts break when we hear about any tragedies involving young kids. But I called him out on his “great perspective.” I told him that he can and should still bitch. His problems aren’t less important because of what happened in Arizona. They are still his challenges to deal with. Instead of dealing with them, however, he was going to just wish them away because his family was safe and sound? I call bullshit.
And that’s why we lose perspective so easily. It’s because we never really find it in the first place. What we “find” is a mirage. It’s a picture of a situation we perceive as worse than our own, which makes us feel like our problems pale in comparison and therefore don’t deserve the attention. What we’ve found isn’t perspective, but instead is an excuse not to deal with our challenges.
Bluntly: Finding perspective means taking care of your shit.
If we really want to “find perspective” in tragedy, then realize your problems and challenges are easily (or even not-so-easily) solved and solve them (or take steps to). Like I told my friend, “Talk to HR. The shootings in Arizona won’t make your boss a good guy. If you REALLY want to take something away from that tragedy, realize that you can’t live in fear of your boss and you need to do something about it. Take steps to fix it.” That’s finding real perspective. Perspective should be a tool…not a crutch.
There’s nothing wrong with whining about the broken appliances in the garage, or being annoyed with a kid who simply won’t do her homework. Those are the very real day-to-day challenges that gain importance (personally) with each passing day. Every time you pass those appliances or have to fight with your kid – the problem grows. It’s real and it’s frustrating.
If you want to find perspective (in tragedy or otherwise) – take steps to find solutions. That’s where perspective really lives.