A Matter of Perspective

When I was younger, I kept a diary. Or journal - is there a difference? Do they just call it journaling to make it sound less adolescent so adults can do it, too? Regardless, it's what I did. I had a shelf near my dining room table where there were books and books of my past, starting in 1982 when we first moved here, covering well into the 90s where I switched to the digitized version. And then I got a blog and stopped writing in notebooks, actual or digital, but that's another story...

And this past weekend, I destroyed them all. Or rather, I had Michele do the ripping while I shredded, but before we did that, I took a look through each, skimmed a few pages here and there, just to see if I could bear to get rid of them. I found that I could, but I also found the writings of a very unhappy girl. And sure, these diaries were much used for therapy and for expressing feelings without a filter and some of it was happy, but most of it was not, most of it was about a young woman, unhappy, lonely and stuck. I read some of it to Michele and once, as I was setting the stage for a paragraph, I did so by saying "and then she said..." and the second between that and the beginning of the paragraph I read aloud stretched into a moment that lasted much longer than just a second while I realized what had just come out of my mouth.

Then she said.

She, not I.

Before we'd started this little project, Michele had asked if I was certain, asked me why I wanted to destroy this record of my history and I replied that it was no longer who I am. But I had no idea to what extent this person who wrote these diaries was no longer me, no idea that we were so different we may as well have been two different people. I've been thinking about it, ever since my New Year's post, the one where I talked about finding true happiness in a place I'd never imagine could be happy. The person I was before, the one who was stuck, who kept saying she wanted to live, not merely exist, but couldn't figure out how to do that, is so far from the person I am now who has found the happy in a place that could to some look like existing, but is in reality the most intense living I have ever done.

It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it? And there's something going on about that idea and the way you change your view, because in the past few days, I have tripped over post after post here and there that poke at this from different points of view. One of the new users on MyRACentral wrote about spoons, using them and getting them and framed it within Bishop (George) Berkley’s philosophy called subjective idealism that states "ideas are dependent on being perceived by minds ('Esse est percipi' -- to be is to be percieved)". In other words, "reality is defined by us." And then Trevor sent me a link to one of Roger Ebert's latest posts called Nil by Mouth about the loss of the ability to eat and drink and the, to us who still can, surprising lack of grief over this loss and by then, it became obvious to even me that there was a theme going on.

Because whether it is those pants in my closet that I think are turquoise, but others see as blue, a life that some see as small and limited, but in my eyes is more intense and happier than it ever was before, the loss of an ability that turns out not to matter much and even be a window into regaining something else or a disappointment that if you turn the prism just a notch can be seen to contain a bright and shining moment or even become an opportunity... it is all perspective.

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" said Shakespeare and he was right, just as Bishop Berkley was, because it's all how you look at it. You can get lost in the grief or you can, after sufficient grief and/or sulking, reframe a loss and make it something to leap upon, something to build on. In the process, someone somewhere will probably call you a relentless Pollyanna, but it is not a mindless positivism at all. It is a life philosophy, the embrace of the belief that reality is defined by you, that you may not be able to control what happens, but you can control your thinking about it and because your view of the world, your view of the events of life is completely up to you, there are no limits to where you can go.

And I'm only just beginning to see the truth of that, to see the pure expanse of what is possible if you choose to define your own reality and I have the feeling that once more becomes visible, it will be beyond what any of us think possible. I wonder... are there truly no limits?