Tuesday, August 7, 2012

tilt-shift

Sometimes I think my brain is like a camera. Besides the fact that I do have a slightly photographic memory (nothing cool or helpful, by the way, it just takes "pictures" of random words on websites or book pages I'm skimming and then I have to go FIND THE WORD or I go insane), my brain has an insane zoom lens that is able to single-handedly wipe out everything else that is going on in my life and, with laser focus, shine a thousand points of light (or darkness) on any given situation. It's this astonishing lack of perspective that I live with on an everyday basis, and sometimes it just kicks my ass into my teeth. My yoga teacher asks, "How are you going to get yourself through this moment?" when we are sometimes in a difficult pose, and I raise my eyes to her in a sort of silent you tell me because damned if I know. I have no idea how to get myself from one moment to the next sometimes, and it alarms me, my lack of perspective.

Yesterday I came face to face with someone else who shared my fabulously craptastic lack of perspective, in LA traffic of all places, and he purposely tried to run me into oncoming traffic with his car. I was deeply afraid, incredibly pissed off, but most of all ashamed for my part of what had happened. Had I done anything violent, stupid or illegal to him? No. But I could have done better. I could have put up with his bullying and just moved over into the next lane to let him pass, as I do for so many other bullies in this town. Because in LA, the person who is the most insane driver, who cares the least for the safety of others, who is the most selfish, wins, up until the day he or she dies in a car wreck, and you just hope to God you're not around on the day that bully's time runs out. My perspective failed me in the worst way possible, and I almost paid a very dear price for it.

But other times my perspective is sharp and clear, with minimal soft-focus on everything that's going on around me. I'm planning a wedding, which has kept me plenty busy, and yet I'd say my stress level, on a scale of one to ten, is probably a three. (I'll get back to you in a month.) But I intuitively know that a wedding is not supposed to be stressful to plan or execute - no matter how many times people have told me otherwise in a sing-songy voice. I'm not supposed to go through a year of hell just to have one perfect day. It just doesn't work that way, even if I believed perfect days actually exist, which I don't. And while it seems that I get to watch everyone else lose perspective around me, I feel like Cassandra, the prophet no one believes, telling them it's going to be just fine. Because, honestly, if Benni and I end up married at the end of the day... it's a good day.

Perspective is scale. It's measuring things against each other, weighing each moment's importance, and being able to toss out what is taking up more energy than it should. It's comparison, it's asking Well is this as important as that? and it's figuring out each moment's place among all the other moments in your life. Is this what you want to focus on? perspective asks, lightly touching each moment like it's in a store, poking fingers into soft sweaters. How about this one? And this one?

It's up to us to have the discerning eye. We cannot grab every moment and treat it as equal, and there are some moments of such utmost important and magnitude that they demand we put down EVERYTHING and simply stop and pay attention. The moment I tell Benni that I will be his wife for the rest of my days is important; the way the napkins on the reception tables are folded is not. The way I treat every person with kindness and respect while driving, whether they deserve it or not, is important. Making a bully embarrassed about the fact that he's a bully is not, in the grand scheme of things, that essential.

Perspective is the art of weighing and measuring and categorizing each moment in our life - and yes, how we are going to get through it - and we are the artist, and our lives are the canvas. And it is the work of a lifetime.

 (Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson)

14 comments:

Robin said...

Really needed to read this post. The paragraph that starts with "Perspective is scale," really hit home with me. I love how you worded that because it resonated just right. I, too, have been having difficulty figuring out where to put my focus. What is worth my attention? I think that we get distracted by the placement of the napkins because that is an easier problem to solve... not because it is more worthy of our attention. Instead, we need to decide to allow all napkin-like distractions go and ask ourselves, "What is important here or who is important here?" and then allow ourselves the luxury of giving ourselves over to it.

Mary Chapin Carpenter released an album quite a few years ago called Time, Sex, Love. She never explained the title (insofar as I know), but I always thought she chose it because those are the things you can never get back. Once given, they are gone. It was like saying, "This is what is precious. Choose how you spend it with care." Perspective. Thanks for The Daily Dose. I wish it were a little more daily because I know I could use it!!!! You always inspire:-)

Red Shoes said...

To me, the cartoon puts everything into perspective.

We all get so caught up in things in our daily lives that really really don't matter... and in the end, we lose perspective of who and what really matters.

~shoes~

The Skirted Wordsmith said...

Ick...the worst part of getting married is all those people who "know" more than you do. But you know you'll get through this moment...even if you don't know HOW!

rosaria williams said...

Hey, you got your head screwed on right! Congratulations to you and Benny and may you have a lovely wedding day.

p.s. You will panic now and then; and on those occasions, remember this wonderful cartoon you shared!

Two Tigers said...

As long as you can step back from your experiences and write about them with this much heart and honesty, I think your perspective is damn good. Maybe it has its off days, but don't we all. Your wedding may not be the perfect day, but it will be entirely undeniably yours.

Marion said...

You are such a wise, beautiful, old soul, Phoenix. Yes, now is all there is and compassionate kindness is the highest form of love. The rest is just stuff. Love & hugs!!! xoxo

"Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness." ~Seneca

Okie said...

Great post. Very astute and well said. I love the idea of vision in "tilt-shift."

Keep track of the big picture and the little things either fall into place or fall away.


That's a great C&H comic as well.

Anthony Duce said...

Perspective is important on so many levels. Stopping what you are doing and looking into the stars once in a while, or at the moon, or at someone you love’s smile, is the best reminder. Very good post.

Bathwater said...

Sammie has that same Calvin and Hobbes cartoon posted on her Facebook page. I wonder if that is a good omen?

Perspective can only be achieved with both eyes open. I wonder if we close one eye and share the view with another if that rule can be bent?

drollgirl said...

i remember losing my mind and stressing so hard in college over mid=-terms and finals. and then part of me would think about the big picture and scream WHAT DOES THIS REALLY MATTER?????? not that one shouldn't try one's best in life, but it is best not to get too stressed out. this coming from a person that is ALWAYS worrying about one thing or another. sigh. it is hard to tame the brain, to be conscientious, to try hard, but to let things go instead of obsessing on them. it is very hard. or difficult? lol. whichever. or both. :)

Jo Schaffer said...

I love your posts. You have the heart of a poet.

drollgirl said...

off topic, but thank you so much for your comment. you are so right -- talking (and blogging) really, really help. things will be ok. one day at a time, as they say! :)

JJ said...

Forgive me, please. As a long-time martial artist, I believe in always walking away - if you can. Best to you, Phoenix.

Lydia Kang said...

So brilliant. I remember that Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. I should stick that in my office.

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