Pronunciation: \pər-ˈspek-tiv\Function: noun
1 a : the technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye; specifically : representation in a drawing or painting of parallel lines as converging in order to give the illusion of depth and distance b : a picture in perspective
2 a : the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed <places the issues in proper perspective>; also : point of view b : the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance <urge you to maintain your perspective and to view your own task in a larger framework — W. J. Cohen>
All of us will deal with some troubles in our lives – it’s a fact of life that we all must accept, face and deal with the approach of our own choosing. What’s interesting is how events that differ wildly in terms of their severity can have identical impacts on different people. For instance, one person who cannot find their car keys first thing in the morning before work could feel the same level of stress and anxiety as someone who just failed the bar exam and now wonders about getting a job after piling up tens of thousands of dollars of debt. Which one is really the more severe in terms of life impact?
That’s where perspective comes in. I could personally be completely stressed out about work or Lord only knows what else. I am the kind of person who is probably a little too keyed-up for my own good. But seriously… how bad do I really have it? I live in a nice town in one one of the most prosperous and free countries in the history of the world, with a good job, my health, great friends and family. That puts me ahead of 99.9999% of the world’s population and why perspective is so damn important… because otherwise I would miss out on valuing the good and would place undeserved importance on my own “bad”.
Tonight I got a jolt of perspective when the youth group I work with served dinner for the Immaculate Conception Shelter in Hartford, a homeless men’s shelter. I have been to this same shelter several times before, but on this chilly New England night, the shelter was as full as I have ever seen it. More than 100 men this particular night. I am always moved and humbled by how appreciative the clients of the shelter are of the efforts of volunteers. I’m just glad they had an option for a meal and a warm place to stay.
Perspective… it’s not the reason I went to the shelter, but it’s certainly what I received as a gift.