“You Gotta Have Perspective”
By Jen Marshall
“You gotta have perspective!”
My junior high art teacher told us this so many times that it became a joke. We all thought that Mr. ‘D’ was a little off, but maybe that was due to the rumors of him sipping off a flask in the back supply room. As he was yelling about perspective and scribbling on our drawings he was referring to the relationship between objects and the audience’s viewpoint. As he became more dramatic he would emphasize the importance of how you see and therefore understand the scene in front of you. At 14 we could have cared less. At thirty-something I’ve realized he was right.
We all go through our days with our usual perspective of our surroundings. That’s a bus stop, people wait there; that’s a faucet, I can drink the water. But I find it fascinating how traveling to a foreign, especially less developed, country can change your perspective on life.
I was recently in Nicaragua for a couple of weeks, which is barely enough time to get your traveling stride, but plenty of time to appreciate you’re not in Kansas anymore. While there we focused on the basic necessities each day – finding shelter and food that won’t make you sick, having fun and the location of your passport. (Note, my boyfriend Deva and I are the no-reservations, but we usually luck-out, kind of travelers.) In the rural areas many of the locals operate the same – focus on family, food, shelter, having some fun and the location of their cell phones.
I came back to the Boulder-bubble in an interesting place of reflection. Gosh, we spend a lot of time on the little things – Do these earrings match? What did he just say about me? There’s nothing to watch on TV! Wait, does any of this really matter? I had perspective. I saw life differently.
Experiencing a situation outside of your normal comfort level forces you out of the mundane and helps you better prioritize your current life. So as we rev up 2011, let’s take it down a notch, America. Let’s focus on the important things in life – taking care of and spending time with your loved ones, making your community a better place, being healthy. Pick out the important things and brush off those little details that don’t really matter. And remember to keep your perspective.
Stay tuned for my series on Latin America: “The adventure. The dichotomies”