A Matter of Perspective

‘Tis the stormy season here in the upper midwest. There will be thunder and lightning!
That’s OK! I enjoy a rattling good storm if:

1) I don’t have to go out in it, and
2) It doesn’t include a tornado.

Lightning is particularly fun to watch if you’re not on a sailboat, in the pool, or out on the golf course holding a five iron over your head. The jagged, unpredictable bolts make for a great show, especially if the action is at a distance. A lot of the drama is in the setting – we’re down here on the ground and all this unruly commotion is happening over our heads. We’re weak and helpless.

I’ve sometimes wondered if lightning is as impressive when observed from above. Well, just yesterday NASA distributed this photo taken three months ago from the International Space Station by Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency.
It shows a storm in progress over Brazil.

Good news, the bolts are going down!

I confess I would feel smug looking down on a thunderstorm from space. Finally – nothing to fear! Up above, I have the strategic advantage. Yes, I’ve got nothing but a metal bulkhead and some insulation to protect me from lethal cosmic rays and the frozen airless vacuum of space would make my blood boil if I were suddenly thrown into it and OK, perhaps the Klingons or the Borg are really out here, and what if our on-board computer stages a mutiny? But at least I don’t have to think about being hit by lightning!

Unless it looked more like this:

Bad news! Fingers reaching up!

This can’t be good.
I suspect once humans get comfortable in outer space, the scariest stuff in the universe will still be those crazy things that might come after us from planets.

When has a change in perspective made all the difference?

About these ads

56 thoughts on “A Matter of Perspective”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons:

    During grad school I lived in a high rise on the West Bank of the University of MN. It was great fun to watch lightening from there. My ex-husband took a photo of the lightening from our apartment window and it landed in the MN Weather Guide Calendar of 1984.

    Everything looks different from a distance, which is often for me the purpose of a vacation. This is particularly true of a vacation that requires navigation around a new city on foot. During such forays I am usually so focused on the moment that all else is left behind. Cities that have particularly lent themselves to this experience for me have been Savannah, GA, Sante Fe, NM, Rome, Paris. I hear Philadelphia and Boston also have much to offer a traveller on foot.

    However, in Rome while waiting for a restaurant to open, my family and I were caught in a rain downpour and thunder and lightening storm. The thunder and lightening flashes bounced all over the cobbled streets. That was a different kind of perspective until the restauranteur finally took pity on us and allowed us in, feeding us breadsticks and wine until they were ready to serve us. Breadsticks and wine create a different perspective entirely!

    Then, after one of these vacations I go home where everything just looks different to me — clearer, happier, simpler and less complicated. And the answers to dilemmas just pop into my otherwise cluttered mind.

    AAHHH

    Like

  2. I think anytime one can move from fear to relief, the perspective changes rapidly. I remember when we found out that our son was going to be born way too early, the more we learned about the situation, the more we could think clearly, and when he arrived and we knew what to expect and we were far less fearful.

    Like

      1. He’s 25, is 6’5″ and getting his Master’s in counseling and student affairs. He had really good hospital course, and was born in Canada, so he didn’t cost us a penny.

        Like

      2. How wonderful, sounds like he’s over the hump huh? Just went my wife’s masters graduation ceremony today and at 50 she was on the older end of the spectrum where your son is on the lower end. Bless him for the interest in trying to help to make the world a better place. Sounds like a chi off the old block. Eh?!

        Like

  3. Obviously, age changes perspective. That seems to happen to everybody, no matter how resistant we try to be. I think about that when I hear Cats Stevens’ song Father and Son; I can remember how the two voices sounded to me when I was a teenager. Different now.

    Like

    1. thanks linda. great memory, i did this one in my old rock and rill days and it is one of the few i still do today. cat was wonderful in general but the perspective he put on there has helped me both when i had to get the hell out of my dads house and when my kids have told me that they need to get some distance from my input and make their own decisions.
      now if i could only figure out how to sing two part harmony… i hear the other part while i’m singing the main one but you guys cant hear it…

      Like

  4. Good morning to all:

    Making gereralizations can get you in trouble and when you are caught doing it your perspective can be changed. I was visiting with a family that came here from Bulgaria. I knew that some Bulgarian student find school work to be easy in the USA and generalized about this. A young member of the Bulgarian family told me that I shouldn’t make that generalization and was a little offended. This incident has stayed with me and has served to remined me to to be more careful about making generalizations about people.

    Like

    1. i dont think you can generalize about generalazations. they may be offensive but they are there for a reason and thats why the offended get uppity. they don’t want to be thrown with all those fellow members of the group of whom it is more true than it is of them. bob newhart was of irish german descent , a very meticulous drunk

      Like

      1. I’m not againest generalizations. I just think it is good to not do too much generalizing, especially when they get in the way and aren’t helpful.

        Like

  5. In high school I was selected to be in a playwrights workshop that was a combined group from my magnet program (a precursor to the IB programs available now) and the program at our school for orthopedically handicapped students. The workshop was great fun and taught me a lot about good things coming to those who wait as one of my fellow students had cerebral palsy and it had affected his speech – he was probably one of the best writers in the group, so waiting to hear what he had written was worth every stutter and pause.

    What was really perspective-altering though was going to Washington DC with the group – we take for granted our ability to navigate the world with ease. Simple things like visiting the bathroom can become a chore if you are wheelchair bound and there are no handicapped accessible stalls. The dorm we stayed in only had standard stalls in the women’s room – I still remember working with the other able-bodied girl on the trip to assist one of the wheelchair-bound students into the toilet; it wound up being something more like modern dance and wrestling than anything resembling dignity. Also, I was stunned with how little was truly wheelchair accessible in our capitol – it was the 80s, so this may have changed, but really, how hard would it be to have at least one of the lookout spots from the Washington Monument be more friendly to the non-able bodied?…

    Navigating a city when you’re not able to be on foot really changes how you experience the city. The three of us who were able-bodied were let loose for the better part of a day while there were some special events at the festival we were attending that were more geared for the non-able bodied attendees. It struck us all how different it was to visit the museums and walk around the Mall when it was just us three and we all remarked how it we were all still keeping an eagle eye out for ramps, better doors, bathrooms that were clearly marked as accessible, and navigational paths that would be easier for those not on foot. 25+ years later I still find myself occasionally looking around to see how easy or difficult it would be to navigate where I am if I weren’t on foot.

    Like

    1. Great perspective, Anna. I always think about that when I see sidewalks that are just a narrow path or haven’t been shoveled completely.

      Like

  6. good perspective anna. i used to get upset about the 1 million dollars it cost to put an elevator in the schools and thought there had to be a better way. then the perspective of the intended user came in and it all make sense. i think today they design buildings much differently than the 60’s or whenever. ramps ahead of time make a huse difference in public spaces . so simple but those not considered in prior times. kind of unbelievable actually. all the one legged returning army vets form wwII etc. you would think it may have dawned on someone sonewhere along the line. but benevolence vs rules doesn’t go quite as far.

    Like

    1. But that is just it, tim. The “infirm” have always been with us, it is just that now they expect to be out in public like any other human being, not tucked away in some attic or a public institution.

      One of the most valuable experiences I had as a very young Nurses’ Aide in a nursing home setting was to be anesthetized for same day oral surgery. I was not allowed to go to the bathroom by myself, just like most of my patients.

      Put the whole thing in another light for me.

      Like

    2. What’s sort of infuriating, though, is that the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t actually create a law saying you have to build for handicapped accessibility, not even a bathroom. It only gives individuals the right to sue you if you don’t.

      Like

      1. Another reason to keep pushing for technology accessibility as well. I suspect social media would be a good way for folks to join together in a suit.

        Like

  7. i love lightning storms. just love them.. i think i have told the story on here before about being at the us open out at the golf course in chaske and going to stand under the tree before my buddy suggested wee move . the lightning hit and we were on a hill next to a big steel light pole but it hit the tree we moved away from. killed a couple folks and messed up a bunch more. black smoking feet from the tennis shoes being blown off. unbelievable instnt replays in the brain. i was also playing golf one time and i don’t mind playing in the pouring rain. you have the course to yourself. the guy with me did get concerned when the lightning started ans we headed back to the clubhouse. the lightning hit the tree right next to the cart path as we drove by. i am sure the wheeles on the riding cart saved out butts. it blew the asphault 10 feet in the air from the tree roots below and took a tree branch as big around as a couch down right in front of us. my friend screamed like a little girl and scrambled out of the cart to run the other direction. he was 6’7″ and a former football offensive lineman. it was pretty funny. things look different up close vs from a distance too

    Like

    1. My story about lightening is one I heard and didn’t see myself. It is about ball lightening. I wasn’t sure I was being told a true story because I had never heard of ball lightening. Now I know that ball lightening does occur on rare occasions. In the story, that I heard, a big ball of lightening rolled in the front door of a small apartment. The back door was open and the lightening continued straight to the back door and went out. No one was hurt, but I think they were very scared.

      Like

    2. tim!
      Chased by lightning TWICE while playing golf?
      Is there something you need to confess?
      Better get some super-insulated golf shoes if you intend to go out this summer.

      Like

  8. A few years ago, after TMS ended, I began to feel like I was alone in a world that was full of people who couldn’t understand humor, kindness and meaningful music. I was disillusioned, saddened by what I saw in humanity, and out of sorts with the world around me. Then I found this Trail. Being here has restored my faith in humanity and reassured me that there are still safe, sane places in the world. My approach to people I meet every day has returned to normal as a result.

    Today the cold rain will allow me to read a book and crochet rather than mow the lawn. This changes my perspective about cold rain. :)

    Like

      1. Easy stuff: washcloths for family, scarves for family, hobo bags, long stocking caps, little caps. Lately lots of washcloths because they’re easy and not a big project and they’re portable. Warm weather means less crocheting. I want to do a shawl and more hobo bags.

        Like

  9. Greetings! Ah, a rainy day is a good day to check in on the Trail and be with others of good sense and cheer. Like Anna, experiencing the world with someone not able-bodied is a humbling feeling. I still do therapeutic bodywork a few times a month for my one regular customer. She has MS and is extremely heavy (even though she was a dancer in college like me). She’s single, lives alone with her 4 cats on a few acres that she loves to add to with new flowers and flower beds every year. When I first started working on her 4.5 years ago, she could get around slowly with a cane. Now she has to use a chair most of the time, although she can take a few steps with support.

    We get along quite well, as she is a strong Democrat, very intelligent and quite witty. Seeing her strength and bravery, as well as the amount of pain she’s in — which can make her quite volatile at times. But I’ve learned a lot about what she has to go through. Even in modern buildings and hotels with handicapped bathrooms, they’re badly designed so she can’t get in to close the door or other design flaws. She even thought up an idea for a fun game based on her experience. A video game where you’re in a wheelchair and you have to find the accessible bathrooms and other things before your “time” runs out.

    She still lives alone with some help from the folks she hires to clean, shop, do gardening, fix up house, etc. Luckily, she has a great job as a system analyst/IT type working with Hennepin County that she enjoys so she can pay for her gardening addiction and the “gimp tax” as she calls it for having to hire people to help her. This winter with all the snow and ice was particularly taxing for her. But today I know she is in her garden in the rain with her helper, planting the 150 bulbs/plants she ordered from her garden porn catalogs. Makes me feel sheepish for complaining about my bad knees which are interfering with my karate currently. I feel a nap attack coming on …

    Like

    1. I like the term “gimp tax”, but I think it can really only be used, as your customer does, for one’s own expenditures, not someone else’s. I will file it away for future use!

      Like

      1. …if that sounded critical, Joanne, I didn’t mean it that way – I know you were quoting! :-)

        Like

      2. what made you think it could be interpratated as critical. i don’t think you have a snide bone in your body do you? you happen to know directly about this area of tax law and i for one think the comment is understood as a comment between family but i did enjoys whoevers comment it was the other day that the blog should not be a club like insiders discussion but linda relax your backstabbing critisism would nned to show itself a litle at least once before we can jump to conclusions of linda the mean comment maker.

        Like

      3. Linda – I could never; even for a moment, think you were being critical in the blog. This woman can’t do those things on her own, but makes too much money to receive Social Services or help from the county, so she has to hire and pay people on her own. The folks that do work for “Mary” are devoted to her as ‘employees’ and as friends. Even the little time I’m there, I try to do what I can to feed the cats, or get her favorite pan down so she can cook (she’s an outrageously great cook, too). She gets a CSA each summer, buys organic from a co-op and takes Tai Chi that her teacher has modified so she can perform it from her wheelchair. She’s an amazing and interesting lady with severe and difficult physical challenges. Unfortunately, she is at war with her body and is not necessarily positive and uplifting in how she deals with her challenges — and if I were in her situation, all that positive affirmation stuff might go up in smoke, too. But we all admire her strength, resourcefulness, intelligence and wit.

        Like

  10. Not to make y’all cry or anything, but over a year after our (adult) son Joel died, I finally got to the acceptance phase of the grieving process. I’m aware that some people never get there, but I had several role models — others who had been through this and were not only surviving, but thriving. For me, the shift came largely from reading some Eckhart Tolle, and Thich Nhat Hanh (I always have to google it for the spelling). And somewhere (I’ll let you know where if I ever find it again) I read or heard how a death of a loved one doesn’t have to define you, doesn’t have to be the main thing that shapes your life. This was huge permission to let go some more, get on with the rest of my life.

    Like

    1. There is a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh that says, “You need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.”

      Like

    2. barbara, thanks for the change of perspective story about joel. its ok to make us cry a little. if you can lol and snort you need to be able to feel the emotion of crying over the loss of a son. its hard to understand where you would lok for the strength to turn the corner. time is a help and if eckhardt tolle helps too i will have to check him out. i am impressed thatlinda has read the other person you quoted. i will check that author out too. i am glad you have found a way to find peace and make something of a transition to the next part of your story. the death of joel had to be defining but i am glad there is room for more definition to follow. i would hope in the next 20 30 40 years a lot more definition would come around.

      Like

      1. I will have to look for those books BiR – they might be helpful for Husband who has a hard time getting to the “acceptance” part of grief.

        Like

      2. Whether he’ll like them or not will depend on his “world view” and spiritual beliefs. I suppose that’s always true.

        Like

  11. Books can change things for me.
    i just read “The Road” I can truly understand why it won a Pulitzer.

    Like

    1. Pat – I completely agree about a book being able to change your life! One of the reasons that I love to read so much.

      Like

  12. I was gone most of yesterday in Bismarck with husband, daughter, and daughter’s best friend. The girls decided they wanted to attend the HD live broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera’s Der Walkure at a Bismarck movie theatre. Those girls sat through the 6 hour production and now want to attend all the opera broadcasts they can when the Met season starts up again in the fall. They were pretty tired when we picked them up. After critiquing the Walkures (one was too old and smiled too much), then arguing and wacking one another in some mock spats, they fell asleep in the van all the way home. Today will be a sunny one, and I plan to pull weeds . Have a happy day, fellow baboons!

    Like

    1. Was that the Met Opera broadcast on MPR yesterday afternoon? I was listening to it occasionally. I’m not an opera fan, so those girls were brave to sit through a 6-hour production of a Wagner opera. But it’s good that young people are learning to appreciate classical music and opera. Those girls also take voice and violin as I remember, so you’re doing the right thing, Renee. I wish I understood more about opera. Wagner operas are so big, loud and dramatic — and a bit hard to take; although they’re certainly interesting.

      I was just really glad that it ended on time for Prairie Home Companion! They even had a late start as I recall.

      Like

      1. I grew up with Live from the Met as ambient sound on Saturday afternoons (in my memory, Saturday afternoons when I was a kid sound like opera and smell like Scotts Liquid Gold and rising bread).

        If you want a “starter” opera, you can hardly go wrong with Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” Or almost anything by Puccini (“Madame Butterfly” is part of next season at the MN Opera, and rush tickets are often available and pretty cheap). Wagner requires stamina…

        Like

      2. I went to one or two productions at the MN Opera years ago and generally enjoyed it — and was very grateful for good program notes and the translation on the screen above. Of course, the wonderful melodies of Mozart and Puccini are far more lovely on the ears and eyes than Wagner at first glance. Thanks for the heads up on next season!

        Like

      3. I would agree with The Magic Flute as a great intro to opera. That was the first opera we took those girls to when they were 11 and 12. They still giggle when they recall the long goodbye scenes between the characters. There is an extremely funny explanation of The Ring Cycle done by the singer/commedian Anna Russell that you can watch on Youtube. Its in several parts that you have to search for, but I highly recommend it.

        Like

      4. Another bit of opera silliness that I stumbled upon on iTunes is an album of “cluckoratura” arias. I was looking for the Queen of the Night aria from “Magic Flute” for a thing with Daughter’s class last year, and found a version that seemed like it would be good – it wasn’t horribly long and, as I recall, it had a a couple of good ratings…didn’t listen to the preview, just downloaded it. The whole aria is sung as if a chicken were clucking it – it’s hilarious. The kindergartners in Daughter’s class made me play it through three times…

        Like

  13. Completely OT: Whaddya know – we won two tickets to see Taj Mahal and Mavis Staples in June, from RH drawing. Thanks, Mike Pengra!

    Like

    1. Hey, I think those were MY tickets…they somehow went to you by mistake. Harrumph. ;-)

      Like

Comments are closed.