Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Perspective ...

After sending out my latest 3-Day e-mail blitz last night, I logged in this morning to see if anyone had made a contribution while I slept.


But then a long-ago co-worker made an early-morning contribution (early-morning for her, living in L.A.), and then, later in the day, I got word that someone I'd worked with on a consulting project in DC a few years ago contributed, too. I surfed on over to my 3-Day page to see what he'd given - every contribution is like Christmas! - and clamped my hand over my mouth.

He'd given $300. In memory.

I jotted a quick e-mail to him, thanking him for his generosity. I was truly moved.

He replied to tell me the story of the woman in whose name he'd made his contribution.

Only it wasn't a woman, it was his niece.

And last year she lost her battle with cancer.

And she was 14.

What he wrote was so beautiful, about how she'd touched his life in the time that she was here.

I marvel at the messages I receive from the universe. Just when I'm wallowing and need to be yanked out of my own head, along comes a story like his to remind me that my "problems" are nothing of the sort in the grand scheme of things.

As he pointed out in his note, there is beauty in everything if we look for it from the right perspective. The yin and the yang. No light without darkness. No happiness without sadness. Gratitude instead of regret.

I'm sure the perspective will fade, and it will, unfortunately, take another similar story to restore it. But why, I wonder? Why is it so hard to take that beat and put circumstances into context and realize that our fires and emergencies aren't really such a big deal? Human nature, maybe. But I'll try to change.


Anonymous Mikeachim said...

A moving story indeed.
As you say, it's human nature for perspectives to fade.
We adapt, and that's why we're good at survival. But we adapt by forgetting, too, fitting new situations by sidelining older ones.
That's why we need to go out and renew important things, constantly - relationships, ideals, guiding principles....
We're like painters in the rain. :)

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had a long talk with a co-worker last night about this very topic, cancer, the randomness of life and how difficult it is, sometimes to accept that. I'm a big believer that acceptance of the light and darkness in life is a matter of conditioning. The more we deal with it, the more we learn to live with it. I also believe that it's the light and the darkness that gives our lives texture and meaning. But as I also said to my co-worker, railing against the random nature of life, fighting it every inch, is what makes us human. The day we give up, lose hope, stop wondering, is the day we die, even if we're still walking around. We get wrapped up in the seemingly petty details of our lives because they ARE the details of OUR lives. We can't beat ourselves up for that. But we can also try to live up to Winston Churchill's words (and I paraphrase here): We make a living by what we get, but we make a life through what we give. It's a useful exercise to try to step outside or yourself everyday. You'll be surprised how alive it makes you feel.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Danusha Veronica Goska's piece "Political Paralysis" in Paul Rogat Loeb's book, "The Impossible Will Take a Little While; A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear":

"Sometimes we convince ourselves that the 'unnoticed' gestures of 'insignificant' people mean nothing. It's not enough to be our best selves; we have to be Ghandi. And yet when we study the biographies of our heroes, we learn that they spent years in preparation doing tiny, decent things before one historical moment propelled them to center stage. Moments, as if animate, use the prepared to tilt empires."

7:30 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Anon I: Good thoughts. Tonight, I co-hosted a workshop and was struck, once again, at how comfortable I feel speaking to groups. I have such performance anxiety, but once I'm "on," I really love it.

Anon II: What an amazing quote. Thank you so much.

10:58 PM  

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