Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Opening the Door of Perspective

By N. Jane Allio

Photo contribution by Crystal Wong

My mother was earning her college degree in psychology while I was in high school. Needless to say, I ended up listening to her tell me about different cases and scenarios she was studying or wound up discussing some theory she came across and thought to share. I found almost everything she talked about incredibly fascinating.

On one particular occasion I recall her telling me about the idea of differing perspectives. Sharing the story of a family getting into a heated discussion, then when each person was asked what happened, they all gave a story that was just a little bit different. Signifying that one person may not see something the same way you see it. It could be a situation like the aforementioned, or perhaps a painting, or the wording of a math problem, the lyric to a song, or a street corner scene, etc.

Sounds elementary I know, but for the first time I began to grasp a deeper meaning. Yes, I am the only person seeing with my eyes, hearing with my ears, smelling with my nose, touching with my hands, tasting with my tongue, and interpreting an array of emotions that bloom with in me. However, I am not the only person in this world, I am not the only one capable of seeing, thinking, reasoning, feeling, or concluding. I am one of seven billion. Among those seven billion there are those with more knowledge than I possess, better skills and qualifications, wider ranges of influence, and etc. Beyond mere global population, the Earth is one of an infinite number of planets in the vast envelope of the universe.

For most, at one time or another, such thoughts have the capability of flinging the mind into a ferocious storm of self pity and doubt; all about how insignificant the existence is of one human life. I know this because thoughts like these used to occupy my mind a lot.

If I told you I now consider this truly comforting, would you believe it? Well it is - to me at least.

This is because when I consider how many others there are it does not take away from me, rather, it adds to the uniqueness that I possess. In the whole universe there is none like me or you. Our talents, abilities, ways of thinking, credentials, or lack there of, all help to create a beautiful world with diversity that ought to be celebrated.

Unfortunately, there are those that are severely frighted because everyone is not a like. Wars have been raged in the names of religion, race, virtue, and vengeance, in order to force mass conformity.

Now what if we took that fear and turned it inside out? Shifting the paradigm of our thoughts and looking, not only at each other but also the world, with humble openness instead of stubborn arrogance.

Brooks Atkinson said, “The most fatal illusion is the settled point of view. Since life is growth and motion, a fixed point of view kills anybody who has one.”

Our earth is in constant forward motion, it only make sense that we ourselves are as well, physically, emotionally, and mentally. We need only to open the door of perspective in order to see how.

This beautiful video sums it all up.

Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked by a reader of TIME magazine, "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?" This is his answer...

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