Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lessons in Perspective from a Visit with the Eye Doc

I bet you didn’t think you could learn how to see things differently, or change your perspective, just by taking a trip to the eye doctor. Well, you can. Here’s my story, and below it, I’ll tell you how: 
“Z, P, no F, maybe a P, O, N, or an H.”
That’s what sputters out of my mouth when I go to the optometrist and they ask me to read aloud the smallest line I can see. The second I think a “P” might be an “F” and an “N” could be an “H” I know I’m in for a new prescription. 
“A, R or P, T, definitely, Z, and maybe E.”

I never sound so uncertain and convincing in one statement than I do when trying to read that very last line. No one likes fail a test, and these eye exams are crucially important. 
Then, they ask me to take my glasses off. Staring straight ahead, I just blink. I blink twice. All I see is this bright light of a box shape on the wall. 
“Don’t ask me to say what I see, because I don’t see anything,” I say, kind of defeated, whimpering almost, with disappointment that I can’t see what’s in front of me. 
Half an hour later, they’ve put eye drops in my eyes to dilate them so the doctor can see if I’m at risk for diabetes or macular degeneration. (Turns out, retinal detachment might be in my future.)
Less than an hour after that, I am home and trying to send a text message when suddenly I can’t see the words in front of me. I’m holding out the phone as far away from my eyes as I can, but it’s hardly working! I’m just guessing. The dilation is lopsided! My left eye is trying to get back to normal, but my right eye is all pupil. 
I suck it up, and wear my sunglasses to work, inside, all day, while tilting my head sideways, squinting, blinking, closing one eye and then another, battling a headache and nausea, when finally, nine hours later, I can see again.
It dawned on me, it’s just like faith. I spent the whole day unable to really see what was in front of me, working, communicating, writing, and living without a clear picture of the result of my efforts. 
If faith is believing in what we can’t see, then worrying is praying for what we don’t want to happen. 
How to Change Your Perspective Without Really Trying
STAND BACK: When we’re too close to something, we can’t see the whole picture. What we’re focusing on becomes blurry, because our mind and heart need other stimuli to understand something completely. This is especially true if there’s a decision to make or someone else’s concerns in our care. Remember, standing back doesn’t mean walking away, it just means seeing more.
LOOK CLOSER: If we’ve become removed from a situation, circumstance, or person, we may be missing something important and real. Often, removing ourselves can make what (or who) we’re considering seem removed. Looking a little more carefully at the situation, person, or circumstance might clear up the importance and meaning of the consideration.  
BLINK: Always, it’s important to blink. Take a breather. Treat yourself to a 30 minute walk when the circumstances, decisions, and people you’re thinking about won’t withdraw from you. Thirty-seconds is enough. Close your eyes, breathe in and out, and consider your perspective one more time. 
Clarity often comes in the blink of an eye. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Not Another One Hit Wonder

Is there really anything so mistaken with being a “One Hit Wonder”? Or, is it actually crucially important to constantly churn out “Number Ones” and remain at the top of the charts? 
There are the artists who have become household names, who have songbooks that are in competition with the amount of cookbooks and regular books I have on my shelf. I can’t think of just one song with these names, I think of five, ten, or fifteen. I can’t think of just one song to play, because if I play one, I’ll play two, or three, or four until someone tells me to turn it off. 
A few weeks ago, I thought about the song “Alone” by Heart. I thought about how each time I hear it, regardless of who is singing it, it always, no pun intended, “chills me to the bone.” It’s memorable, it’s meaningful, and it conjures up the same emotion every single time. Then, who can forget “What About Love?” and “These Dreams”, also number ones, off one album?
I can’t tell you what you’re feeling inside
I can’t sell you what you don’t want to buy
Something’s missing and you’ve got to 
look back on your life
Heart isn’t even a band I listen to all that often, and you’ll find an entirely different collection of songs and artists (like Madonna, Carrie Underwood, some Christian artists, country music, and more) on my iPod other than Heart. It’s just that Heart, here, proves a point. 
On the flip side, there are also the artists we can barely remember and their one song we’ll never forget.  Thank you very much: “She’s Like the Wind” by Patrick Swayze. 
When it comes to the people in our lives, I find these phrases “One Hit Wonder” and “Number Ones” hold quite true. 
If someone is a One Hit Wonder, they’ve made a significant imprint on our hearts, or in our lives, but that’s it. There’s not a lack of appreciation for them, but their significance isn’t lasting. We might remember them in one moment, or from time to time,  and fondly (or not so fondly, depending on the impact), but - to borrow the analogy - other than that one dance at the High School prom, you might not hear “She’s Like the Wind” for awhile. 
If someone is a Number One, they’re still making an impact on your life. They’re encouraging you to change and grow (for the better), while also supporting who you already are. You find yourself, much like that artist with all those Number Ones, where you can’t play just one song, unable to forget them or let their playlist remain unplayed. In reality, you’ll find yourself coming up with not one, but two, or three, or four different moments in which they influenced you, occasions to bring them up in conversation, and reasons to communicate with them. The next thing you know, you’re reciprocating, without even trying, and you’re encouraging them, supporting them, and won’t let yourself be forgotten. 
What’s that song lyric from “Alone”?
‘Til now, I always got by on my own.
I never really cared until I met you. 
The thing is, we can still get by on our own, we just don’t want to. Imagine your iPod without that playlist. Imagine if it were your life without that person.
It’s easy to be a One Hit Wonder, but those artists who have the Number Ones, they work hard, make mistakes, come back, and do it again. 
Look for the Number Ones in your life, and then, do the work, show up, be faithful and encouraging, use God as your guide, and maybe you’ll be someone’s Number One, too. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Coming Up for Air

I’m coming up for air. I’ve been quiet and probably overly thoughtful about a few things in recent weeks. 
The other night I stopped and realized, this might be the most thought provoking and meaningful year since I was an almost philosophy major in college. It left me in awe, and awe is pretty much the state of my existence. Of course, there are moments of sudden jolts within my reality, but mostly I’m in awe.
I thought about ways to articulate the swirling in my head, but I am not even sure storyboards or mapping would convey it properly. One thing I’ve learned is my intuition is nearly always right, even when I am handed conflicting confirmation. The gut knows. So, you see, I have to come up for air: 
"It never ceases to amaze me how the seemingly mundane, ordinary, and even happenstance parts of life become so critically important. The gradual passage from good to great, from the hard thing that becomes the right thing, to the unexpected and undeniable joys. It is in the thick of intuition and expecting something wonderful that all things are just good. Even on my darkest days, I know all these things are wonderful."