perspective

I’m back! After the better part of a month away from Sphynx, I’ve returned with some much needed perspective.

My last post – looking at it retrospectively now – was a haunting way to leave the blog. I had essentially reached a point in the centre of a vacuum and simply needed to get myself out.

The problems all stemmed from trying to navigate cyberspace and feeling that I was using social media in a way that didn’t feel good. That term actually began to spark a low concentration of vomit, gurgling just below the surface. That’s how sick I was of talking about it. But that’s only because I resisted it. Something about it made me visualise an army that I was trying to fend off all by myself. Something about it felt oh so invasive and destructive and warrented my tactics of protection.

All I needed was a break. It’s been a break to gain perspective, as I say. It’s been a time to go about life in the way that feels best to me – most natural to me.

A most unfortunate side effect of using social media – at least to me – is the pressure placed on oneself to be the very best at whatever it is one is trying to achieve. It’s the constant comparisons we draw and the subsequent feeling of lack. At the touch of a button we can see into the lives (albeit the strategically captured lives) of people all around the world, seemingly living the dream in a way that we may not feel we are. This of course sparks feelings of sadness, moments of questioning self-worth and worst of all, a total lack of appreciation for what’s right in front of us. For me, it took looking at real life – not that behind a screen – to bask in the feeling of good fortune.

Make your life small again and your focus is then limited. You’re not seeing millions of peoples’ lives, all around the globe. You’re only seeing your own and the lives of the people you know in your physical existence. It’s a bit like choice: if it’s chocolate or vanilla, chances are you’ll make an instant decision. If there are 100 flavours to choose from, you’ll spend minutes agonising over which to select. Less background noise can make us focus on what’s real and what our choices are in the here and now. Overwhelming possibility doesn’t always feel good as it can emphasise how far away we are from what we might want. If we don’t have that dangled in front of us, our focus is brought back to reality.

Perspective. It’s so important to pause and get it back again. However you need to do it, make sure you make that move. It’s for your own success.


Photo via Unsplash

 

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In our modern construct, we have a generic social structure within our lives. This usually involves birth, schooling, university, a 9-5 job, marriage, babies, retirement, and death. Of course these events are joined by all the little day-to-day details, but for some reason there are milestones that we work towards and place enormous focus on. These are the events we consider the most important – the most memorable and profound.

But what about the day-to-day? Surely if we add up these ‘memorable’ days, they comprise only a few fleeting moments of the totality of our lives? Our lives seem to be filled with days and days of seemingly empty space that we don’t remember. These are days that don’t seem to important enough for us to draw attention to. I wonder if it’s because we feel that ensuring our existence fits into the current paradigm considered ‘acceptable’ and ‘worthy’ is enough. Is it because we feel we’re living how we should be?

We make decisions based on our options. But what if we have limited the options we give ourselves? What if our perspective is limited in a way that hinders our growth? We are raised in a way that often sets boundaries. These boundaries draw out the perimeter of the box we fit into. It’s a box that allows some choice, but not infinite free will.

A Different Perspective

If we remove this idea, this paradigm of modern day life, we are left with infinite possibility. We are left with a more simpler truth which is simply that anything can happen. If you let it, that is. If we halt the predictability and these aforementioned milestones that we inevitably find ourselves working towards, we’re left with a more sensitive approach. By a sensitive approach I mean taking life as it comes at you.

Having a ’10 year plan’ is useless. I used to at least give it an ounce of my thought, but now I see that it is entirely destructive. It is possible for you to be an entirely different man or woman in 10 years time. If you structure the next 10 years in a way that limits you to what you wanted for yourself at the start of those 10 years, you’re holding yourself back. With growth comes a change in perspective. How can you possibly know that in 10 years time the best thing for you is what you yearn for now?

An Ebb and Flow

I am also guilty of labelling some things as ‘me’ and others as ‘so not me’. Whilst in this present moment I may have an affinity for a particular sense of style or type of music, for example, is it wise to spend the next 10 years habitually closing myself off from alternatives? Who’s to say I won’t change perspective entirely in 10 years from now; hell – even 1 year from now?

As we learn and grow and formulate new ideals for ourselves, we’re engaging in a kind of ebb and flow with life. It’s a little give and a little take. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Our moods change every moment and we are constantly learning by experience. We do this dance with life and if we do it well, we’ll get the best out of it.

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The next time someone asks me where I’ll be in 10 years time I’ll tell them that I couldn’t possibly imagine. I’d like to live my life as though I have no idea what tomorrow will hold. And it’s true, I don’t. It’s not the morbid anticipation that something awful might happen, but rather the eager excitement for what I might create simply by actively interacting with the events that happen today. We are all designers of our own lives. If only we accept that, we hold a world in the palms of our hands.

Photo: Flickr

It is funny how we get accustomed to certain standards and how easily we forget the past, if things weren’t so great then. I guess it is an indication of complacency and taking things for granted, which is inevitable from time to time, but still should be avoided as far as possible. Yesterday really brought that home for me.

Here in Britain – the land of the polite, rule-abiders – we are profoundly apologetic and considerate of each other. We play it safe, form a queue to do so and generally go about our hermit-like ways without bothering each other too much.

Part of my daily ritual is getting the bus home from work. Granted, I could write a book about all the strange drivers and passengers I’ve encountered over the years, but it is generally a pretty time-efficient, successful journey each day. I pay a good fare, consider our country to be pretty civilised and as such expect certain standards from the driver, state of the automobile and passenger interaction. All these things were entirely subconscious before I had yesterday’s experience.

On the journey home yesterday, I was the only passenger waiting at the station. This isn’t a rarity; my bus is never particularly busy. As I saw the vehicle waiting in a bay across the lot, with one minute to go until the scheduled departure time, I looked up from the video I was watching on my phone and saw the bus driver flailing his arms in the air, which I gathered after approximately another minute was an angsty, ‘come here!’ motion. Confused as to why he didn’t just pull up to the bus stop, as would be normal protocol, I wandered over – pulling my headphones off – and approached the flustered bus driver. His English was poor and the general consensus was that he couldn’t be bothered to pull up to the bus stop for just one passenger. Great, I thought, one of those.

I gave him my pass, which he waved off with disregard and he motioned for me to sit – quickly – as he was clearly in a rush to get going. I plonked myself down and he raced up to the traffic lights at the entrance of the depot. He then proceeded to abandon the vehicle, run outside to the pedestrian crossing nearby and press the button in the hopes that he would be able to escape the premises minutes faster than he otherwise would do if he waited (as would be normal protocol, once more).

Our light went green instantaneously, but by the time the driver raced back to the bus and got into his seat, he was met with amber-to-red. He then proceeded with an angry outburst of ‘FACK! FACK! FACK!’ to which I just sort of gazed, questioning, ‘Is this really happening?’ I was about to pinch myself when he ran through the same motions, in the blind hope it was just bad luck the first time round. You guessed it: the same thing happened again. But this time the cursing was interspersed with words in a different language that I didn’t understand, but sensed were rather rude.

When we eventually got moving, Jack The Fack sped like a mad-man along the road, swerving and taking corners like The Stig before edging closer to my stop of choice. An eager beaver, I pressed the button to request my stop and was met with an immediate halt, akin to the emergency stop you’re sometimes asked to do in your driving test, and flung out the doors into the darkness.

I wrote my complaint on the way home and had it sent off by the time I slotted my key into the lock. ‘Unacceptable!’ I thought to myself. ‘Barbaric behaviour!’ I exclaimed as I walked into my flat. And then, after I calmed down, I remembered that my school bus in Morocco almost never got from A to B without an incident. This included traffic jams, the driver stopping to have a catch up in the middle of the road with a friend he hadn’t seen in a while, or getting out and fighting with someone whose wing mirror he’d just knocked off. That was simply the norm there; we all expected that we’d probably be late going to or from school and saw the driver showdowns as daily doses of excitement. It is all about perspective; that’s something the universe kindly reminded me of yesterday.

In a similar way to how we live within our means and subsequently find ourselves on great salaries complaining that we still don’t have enough, we also get comfortable in our surroundings and come to expect certain routine behaviours and encounters. This little outburst from Jack The Fack was a gentle reminder to be more appreciative of how easy-going things are most of the time in this country. Peaceful, little island in the cold, North Atlantic, I am grateful for your benevolence.

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