The View From Here

Perspective is a funny thing. Two people can have the same experience and feel completely different afterward. Hell, the same person can have the same experience at different times and feel differently about each one. When used properly, perspective helps us empathize and solve problems.

My office is a desk that sits in my bedroom. So, for about 16 hours a day I’m in the same. damn. room. Every day. But, that’s not really the point. Although, it kind of is. My office is in front of a window that stares at the base of a hill that is my backyard. Because of this, I spend a lot of time looking at that hill. Yes, that one you see in the photo above.

As you can see, it’s not the best view, but neither is it the worst. Which is to say, it’s like any other view I guess. Some days I like watching the squirrels scurry from tree to tree, and I even occasionally turn my head when they start munching the strawberries. I enjoy coveys of quail, the occasional deer, roosting wood ducks, a bevy of doves and a whole pile of cute little bunnies. Anyway, the hill is also nearly void of vegetation, except for those awful Siberian Elm trees. The hideous giraffes of the flora world reach enormous height, drip gross sap everywhere, shed leaves and/or seeds year round and casually drop 500-lb. branches just for the fun of it. It’s best if you or your house aren’t directly beneath when they decide to let one of those things go. So after living and working here for nearly a year, I’ve finally learned something about perspective from staring at this hill.

The past shapes us, but it doesn’t define us

While our perspective is influenced by past experiences, our past doesn’t control our current view. I grew up with elm trees and I hated them then. While this undeniably has set me against them here, I can also appreciate the morning shade they provide. They offer habitat for the squirrels that I enjoy watching and a place for the wood ducks to roost. A change in perspective can look past faults. Looking past faults is how you get along with other humans, because, well, humans have lots of faults.

Perspective is all about direction

If I climb the hill and look back at my house, I’m greeted with a view of the Snake River in the foreground and the Owyhee Mountains on the horizon. It’s really a gorgeous view. And all it takes is a change in direction. I used to listen to Dave Ramsey a lot and I remember him saying, “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.” It’s true. If you want something different, you need to be willing to do something different.

Perspective, by itself, doesn’t change reality

If you change your perspective, don’t expect actual circumstances to change. If life gives you lemons, sure you can shift your perspective and see lemonade, but guess what? At the moment, you’ve still got lemons. Lemonade doesn’t come from noticing you can take something sour and make it sweet. The world is full of people that notice things, but there are far fewer that take the intiative to do something about it. If you want the lemonade, it takes actual action to produce it.

Understand that your past will influence how you view things, but don’t be shackled by the idea that your past has to be a negative influence. When you’ve come to grips with that, know that if you want to shift your perspective you have to be willing to go in another direction. Finally, accept that a change in perspective doesn’t do anything for you unless you take action.

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