Another excerpt from my manuscript (It’s still not a book until it is published): The Commonzense of Saint James
This short trip we are on during our earthly sojourn throws all sorts of junk in our path; it’s called living. If you are among the breathing, there really isn’t any way to avoid or hide from the suffering, pain, or hurt that occasionally joins us on our journeys. The ups and downs, and the good and bad are all part and parcel of the package.
Certainly, there is little doubt that some of the problems we face are serious, but often they are not as serious as our minds want us to believe. As Mark Twain so aptly put it, “Some of the worst things in my life never happened.”
The greatest difference among people is how they handle the ups and downs of life, which eventually affect each one of us. How do we determine what is a serious and life-changing situation and what isn’t? Losing a job would certainly seem catastrophic unless you compared it to the death of someone close to you. Facing bankruptcy would seem devastating unless you compared it to confronting cancer and all the life-altering possibilities that come with this diagnosis. So how do we put our lives and what we are going through and dealing with in context? We put it in perspective.
Seeing Beyond Yourself
What I have learned firsthand is that no one can teach us perspective; we must experience it. We experience it on our knees, with our tears, and with our hands, but most importantly, we experience it with our hearts. Unfortunately, it is an experience we must be open to accepting, and most of us find that difficult to do.
Perspective presents itself to us every day. It’s in a story somewhere in the local newspaper, it is reported on the six o’clock news, and perspective may even work in the cubicle next to us. The question is can we recognize perspective when we come in contact with it, but more importantly, will we choose to recognize it?
The ego ultimately prevents us from gaining perspective, let alone seeing things clearly. The ego narrows the view of our self and of our world so that even the smallest problems seem magnified. As His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama describes it: “A narrow perspective makes even a small problem unbearable.” The ego wants us to believe that no one’s problems are bigger than ours are, and that might be true, but how will we ever know?