Some days I feel slightly detached and out of focus in the rat race of my life. My quest to understand the world more clearly began in my adolescence, and I have traveled steadfastly to a place where I should, by now, be experiencing the comfort of clarity.
I have always believed that keeping everything in perspective is key to staying grounded. Since people’s convoluted perception of what is right or wrong and what is a tragedy or just an inconvenience varies, I find myself over-analyzing and over-dissecting to make sure the eyepiece through which I see the world keeps my vision in perspective.
A typical day might have me in my car with a semi-functioning A/C in a crawling bank line that has made another error in my account. I am having to cram this errand during the lunch break of a job that offers a PPO having an outrageous deductible and no dental insurance. I constantly check my watch thinking it cannot get worse than this. In that moment, I am the core of my universe and nothing else exists. I am the only one having a bad day and bad things happen only to me.
In that same universe, a young boy living in a garbage dump in Thailand looks for glass bottles to sell to feed his entire family; yet 50 miles away, an American CEO visits the same region to get the real experience of how to make authentic Asian food for cooking classes that promote status symbol stoves. In that same universe, a Louisiana homeowner is suing his insurance company because the company still has not paid for his hurricane-damaged roof; while across the globe live people whose entire home and family have been swallowed by the ocean. In the same universe, a man is horrified because his TV remote control has accidentally been crushed beyond repair; yet there are families in New York City who had loved ones crushed into nothingness within hours of the largest terrorist attack in United States history. While one parent is anguishing over his child not getting enough playing time on the soccer field, another parent’s child has just been abducted.
Is there so much distortion of what is important and what is not that we cannot see beyond our own noses? I believe in appreciating the gamut of life’s obstacles, exercising more patience and compassion, and more importantly, keeping it all in perspective. Some days all it takes to get me back on track is 15 minutes in my rocking chair or helping an elderly man with shaky hands fill out his check in a grocery store check-out line full of people waiting impatiently or visiting a used bookstore and finding a handwritten inscription inside a copy of Gibran’s “The Prophet”. Such experiences continue to help keep my adversities in perspective. This I believe.
On clear nights after I dim my lighted Earth globe as Maddie, my dog, snores at the foot of my bed, I say to myself, “My life is not so bad.” I am determined to never lose sight of that.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.