The more I grow up, the wider my perspective seems to get. Like a camera lens that re-focuses from a narrowly defined macro shot out to a wider-angled view of life.
In my naïveté, I used to take a my-way-is-the-highway approach to everything, sharing opinions from soapboxes in my relationships and in my writing. And even now seeing life through a broad lens doesn’t come naturally to me.
I still have strong opinions and convictions on certain issues; I’m not afraid of absolutes. But time and life experience have helped me to develop the wisdom to learn to try to share my opinions with grace and love.
As I move through life I’m learning to intentionally allow things into my life that will grow my perspective in the gray areas. And let’s be honest, a lot of life is gray.
Recently I took a part-time job for a few months. I’ve essentially been a stay-at-home mom for over eight years, so this was a huge shift for me. I was only gone three hours a day, four days a week, but it was plenty to give me a little perspective, a little glimpse of what it’s like to be a working mama.
I had the privilege of joining the ranks (on a small scale) of parents who leave their children in someone else’s care, who juggle the cares of both inside- and outside-the-home issues. Working a little has also given me the perspective of gratitude for the fact that I’m able to stay home if I want to, something I’m sure I’ve been taking for granted most days.
We inarguably consume a lot of media these days in our culture. One of the beautiful things about media is how eye-opening it is to the world around us. And since the world is always changing, my perspective too has to evolve as I consume media.
Here are a few forms of media that have helped me harness the power of perspective.
Memoirs: the personal memoir has become one of my favorite genres to read, because they are just that: personal. And as Kathleen Kelly says, “Whatever anything else is, it has to start by being personal.” We step into someone else’s shoes and see the road they’ve walked– real, living, breathing people who have a true story to tell. Memoirs entertain me, but I find that there’s also always something to learn from someone else’s experiences.
Portraits that tell a story: these are like mini-memoirs themselves, that at our core, move us. This, I believe, is why millions of people have been wooed by the power of the Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton. He has opened our eyes to the beauty in the lives of ordinary people. His Facebook page says that HONY “provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City.” I love that.
Instagram: I’m a fairly visual person, so it’s no surprise that IG is my favorite form of social media. Some of whom I follow are accounts that simply showcase the pretty in life, but the majority of the people I follow are real. They’re authentic. Many of them are different than me, live in different parts of the country or the world, and have opened my eyes to what life is like for another person, another family, another homeschooler, another reader, etc., etc.
There’s a lot of heartbreak in the world, but there’s also a lot of beauty. Let’s step back, widen the lens, and see how we can grow, be moved, be educated, be changed by those around us.