Sometimes, seeing who you are in a multitude of perspectives can give you a much more comprehensive view of yourself as a whole, and give you much-needed insight as to what you’re made of, down a deep, where it really counts.
When I started my weight loss journey it felt like I was standing at the base of a monolithic mountain and looking up to the summit and thinking “That is impossible. I cannot climb that.”
But sometimes you’re not aware of what you’re capable of until you have to be.
Until you step up to that plate and take your swing, you may not even know if you can hit the ball.
It’s easy to get tunnel vision, and to corner yourself into a narrow way of thinking that does not allow you to see outside of the parameters that you have established. What’s not easy, however, is to harness the ability look at yourself differently than you have become accustomed.
Viewing the world in a different way can open you up to ideas and practices that you may have never entertained otherwise.
As a parent, I have had been privy to a multitude of refreshing moments and perspective changing conversations with both of my boys, and sometimes you can forget that the world can be viewed in many many different ways.
But every once in a while, as a grown-up, you have a particular moment where you get a glimpse into the mind of someone that redirects your own thinking. And on this particular occasion it was through the “fresh eyes” of my seven year-old son.
While driving by a local bookstore, we had stopped at a red light, and my son, who had just learned to read, was peering out the window.
There was a large banner in front the bookstore that read, ‘Giant Book Sale!’
My son, after reading it aloud, then turned to me with a perplexed expression and asked, “Mom, why are only the giant books on sale?”
It caught me a little off guard, but then I realized that to him, it was a valid question.
And after trying to explain to him that it was the word “giant” was referring to the size of the sale and not the size of the books, I stopped myself, and just tried to look at the sign from his perspective.
I suppose it would have been less confusing if the sign has simply stated “giant sale on books”. But because most things in this world are left to our own interpretations, and the English language in itself is fairly complex, we are left with our own deciphering of the world around us to help us make sense of our surroundings.
So rather then correcting him, I gave him an answer.
I told him that perhaps they had too many giant books, and had run out of room, so maybe they needed to sell more of them to make space for the smaller ones. He seemed satisfied with that answer, and that was that.
That particular encounter had prompted me to begin thinking about the value of true perspective.
Is the glass half full or half empty?
Are you an optimist or pessimist?
Are you hopeful or cynical?
It’s all in how you look at it.
For example:What should you do if you’ve lost your motivation?
Well, you should find it, right? Let’s re-trace your steps. Do you remember where you were when you last used it? Can you recall what it was wearing when last you saw it? Perhaps it is just misplaced, and not lost at all.
Sometimes we can find humor in between the lines.
The Captain and I were bowling a while back, and after suffering a fair amount of consecutive losses, he defiantly exclaimed, “Oh it’s ON now!”
And what was my response in the face of his verbal gauntlet of intimidation?
“Oh, it’s on? Really? Was it not on before? Like, is it always on, and you’re just letting me know now that it’s on? Or is it like hooked up to a switch and you just turned it on? Because, those pins that didn’t go down when you threw the ball, I don’t think that they knew it was on. So maybe you need to release a memo alerting everyone involved, that it is indeed ON. Have you checked with your doctor to make sure it was safe for you to turn it on?”
We all laughed, and after I threw a few gutter balls, my youngest son approached me with a sympathetic face and patted me on the shoulder. “It’s ok Mom… you’re really good at a lot of other things.”
I giggled at his observation, for he was a wise and learned young man. And he was right, I could be sad that I was bowling terribly, or I could be just be happy that I do many other things well.
But of course, this was the same boy who came home from school on the first day of kindergarten and asked me if I would come to his class to talk about the covered wagon that grandpa had when I was a little girl. Like he wanted me to show up dressed as Laura Ingalls and talk about my life on the prairie.
Ummm…then, after a few probing questions, it became quite evident that it was in fact a ‘station’ wagon (and not a covered wagon) with which my “pioneering” parents had crossed the great divide westward-ho from Florida, in search of opportunity and to settle the wild wild west. I told him that grandma and grandpa had indeed faced many challenges, including surviving for many years with no cable, and only one television.
Point of fact, my father actually did face (and survive) cancer, twice in the span of a single decade. And at first mention that does seem extremely unfortunate. But, was it bad luck that he had cancer twice? Or was it good luck that he survived it both times?
What happens to us is not always in our control. But how we receive it, and react to it, and assimilate it into our daily lives, is completely in our control.
So when I finally reached my weight loss goal, and got to the top of that mountain, I stood up to enjoy the view. But soon after, and was hit with a few unexpected challenges, and I discovered that staying at the top of that mountain was going to be just as labor-intensive as climbing it. Because when you’re standing there, you’re exposed to the elements. When you’re standing there, you have to stay on your feet.
Staying at the top of that mountain requires balance, and when the wind blows, you have to hold on. Not unlike a game of king of the hill, you have to stand your ground and try not to lose your footing.
But what happens if you can’t hold on? What if the wind is too strong? What if the elements overpower you? What happens if you get knocked off your perch at the summit of that mountain and slide down to a nearby ledge?
Is it a failure to lose your spot at the top?
Or, can you appreciate the beauty of the view from where you find yourself?
When I woke up on that ledge, and realized that the top of the mountain was now above me, I had two choices.
I could stay on that ledge and lament my misfortune while chastising myself for not holding on…beat myself up for letting myself down, or…
I could stop. And try to gain some wisdom from my experience and attempt to enjoy the view from a different perspective. I could allow myself to see the value in it, and use my time on the ledge to regain my balance, so that when I reached the top again I would be stronger.
After giving it some some thought, it did seem ironic to me that, depending on my perspective, seeing the same number on the scale in two opposing contexts could cause me to feel so completely at odds with myself.
That the very same number could bring me unbridled happiness in one instance, and yet total disappointment in another.
When I was losing weight the first time, the same number that dissatisfies me now on the scale, seemed to be all but victorious back then. The first time, it was the homestretch to my goal, and it was the lightest I had ever been.
It felt amazing.
That particular number on the scale had made me feel so good, and I had celebrated it.
But now, after dealing with a few setbacks, and finding myself staring at that same number on the scale again, it feels like the complete opposite of how it felt the first time.
This time, it feels like a failure.
And even though it’s not that far from where I want it to be, having already been there makes this number feel like a defeat instead of a success.
But that determination of failure or success is up to me to make. It’s just a number, and the value of it encompasses more than actual weight.
The same view can look different depending on the eyes you use to view it, and how much time is passed in between.
These two pictures were taken just days apart and show just how much can change in a short span of time.
Maybe we have to fall in order to know that we can get up again.
Maybe we have to be at the bottom of that mountain before we can climb to the top.
And maybe, just maybe, we have to see the view from every ledge along the way in order to know which one is the most breathtaking.
So the view from here is this…
From the bottom, I am capable. From the top, I am vulnerable. And along the way, I am unstoppable.
Every view is part of the climb, and seeing them all allows us to put together all of the pieces.
So, if you only value the view from the top, then you will miss out on all of the beauty in between.
And sometimes, what you learn along the way can be just as important as where you are headed…
and even more important than where you may end up.