6 October 2022

Perspective: It Looks Different From Over Here

winter sunset

Perspective is the way we see things when we look
at them from a certain distance
– Rafael Pino –

Now I am a bit embarrassed to admit that it was Queen Elizabeth’s death that made me think about this. This death and all the news and info around it and about it took me straight back to hearing about Princess Diana’s death. Bit of back story is called for. Here in South Africa and in particular the community I was born into were not inclined to be royalists. There were old grudges against empire. A few wars here, some involved women and children amongst others kept in camps and then there was bad feeling about language issues. Other communities had their own even better reasons to not hold what had been our version of the raj in high regard. But even so looking from the outside at the Diana and Charles story, we were enchanted. This young pretty girl marrying a prince, the poufy dress, the ring, the shyness! Oh my goodness, it really did have that fairy-tale feeling.

whispy clouds

And then it all went wrong, and she died in an accident, and I was incensed on behalf of that princess. Oh how badly she was treated, by the mother-in-law, by the husband. I could only see her as a victim, as hardly done by. But then the years went by, and the queen dies and here I am looking back from where I stand now, from who I am now. And I call up that princess face, the behaviour of all involved and I find I have changed my mind. I see bad behaviour on all sides and people behaving like humans.

Now of course this isn’t about the royals. That look back to how my reactions have changed over the years showed me how much I have changed. I am more willing now to cut people some slack. Things are as they say, complicated. We are imperfect beings. And we have a tendency to behave badly, especially when we are young! I blamed (blame) people around me for small mistakes. And you know, even big mistakes, can be forgiven. For various reasons I really wanted people to be all of a piece. Failure free. No one is.

And yes, maybe I and others longed for the fairy tale to be true: and they lived happily ever after because they were indeed the flawless fairy prince and princess unlike the poor normal souls in our own everyday lives! I certainly yearned for perfection in my own life and that is of course a shortcut to distress.

Step out of the tyranny of self-judgement.
Forgive yourself for being a learner in this life
– Jack Kornfield –

All those years ago I was down in the valley looking up at the happenings on the mountain but now I am just looking. I know that for the most part people are like me. We aim to do our best, some days we succeed and others we don’t. Now if I can just notice and then act as if I am a dear friend or a loved child and say: There you go, it’s all fine. Tomorrow is a new day, it’s all good.

Fish Hoek landscape

I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
– W B Yeats –

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