December 9, 2010

Perspective: The Most Gratifying Holiday Gift.

In this beautiful illusion which we casually label as reality, perspective steers our view on life.  How simple it is to take a stance in varying degrees of positive or negative through every turn along our paths… tainting the clarity and clouding the view.

Perspective… this veil on one’s interaction with reality, is so pertinent at this time of year when priorities and true intentions tend to become skewed. During the holidays we are faced with impending obligations, all of which are self or societal created, which induce stress, resentment and sometimes long lasting financial repercussions.

It seems ironic that we impose these tensions upon ourselves at a time when our focus was initially intended to be on love, family, gratitude and a fresh new start to the year.  Somewhere, lost amongst the frenzy of gift buying, cooking and traveling, lies the quiet, personal meaning of whatever holiday or celebration this time of year holds for you… but do we ever find the time to connect to that meaning?

I think it is all too easy to lose that perspective, creating an uproar of stress around the emphasis on materialism. There’s not a gift in the world that would properly convey my love for the people in my life so why would I attempt to show them my emotions with material possessions?  It seems very distorted and contradictory, but, nonetheless, socially normalized.

It’s wonderful when a new found or forgotten perspective can arise spontaneously to illuminate an awakening of clarity.  Unfortunately, it usually takes a jolt of realization from some eye-opening experience to alter how we perceive our lives… and even then, it takes practice, reflection and conviction to make lasting changes.

I’ve written before about my view that life brings ‘peace’ or ‘practice’.  When I struggle with finding that quiet peace within I search for the emergence of a practice or lesson amid the situation from which to learn and grow.

Being 6 months pregnant with my third child, and for the wellbeing of my two beautiful boys and loving husband, I wanted nothing more than pure, radiating peace this holiday season. On the contrary, I was given a great opportunity to practice compassion, understanding, and a wonderful chance to gain an invaluable perspective which I will certainly hold sacred for years to come.

The impetus to my perspective shift was both initially unwelcome and unappreciated. My family came across an individual who has harbored a deep-seeded anger and confusion which appears to taint his interaction with every being he encounters. I can only imagine that this sort of conduct is an accumulation of years of hardship and sadness. Unfortunately, we found ourselves in the wake of his destructive behavior and were greatly impacted both mentally and financially. Fortunately, however, this experience eventually allowed us to see many aspects of our life in a new light.

In my opinion, the hardest part of gaining a new perspective, especially when buried within a whirlwind of emotions, is taking an objective look at the situation. In this case, with an unfortunate situation as the catalyst, it took a couple of sleepless nights to get past my anger, fear of the unknown (from a financial standpoint), and mending the hurt associated with taking the situation personally. I think that it is important to recognize that these are very natural reactions and to acknowledge the emotions as they arise; however, being careful not to get caught up in the dead-end, nonproductive cycle of negativity.

Striving to learn and move forward in the face of life’s difficulties, negativity and helplessness do nothing but throw roadblocks in our path. There are always ways around these obstacles; however, it takes an open and objective view, unhindered by emotion, to see the detours. The roadmap to maneuver through these rocky roads are understanding and compassion. I previously shared my own set of tools for these practices, which then allows for a shift  in perspective.

Now, past the anger, resentment and fear, I am extremely grateful to this individual who walked me down a path I would never have traveled by choice.  He allowed me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, beyond my set perspective, to gain a new view on this time of year.

This holiday we will not be overwhelmed with the stresses of holiday shopping, the drain of obligatory cameos, nor the hustle of fleeting moments gone unnoticed.  We will not focus on the petty ‘things’ that we wish to acquire while redirecting our superficial desire to share our emotions in the form of material possessions.  In these next few beautiful weeks our family is going to revel in gratitude for all that we have and all that we are as blessed beings, individually and together…  for without that, what could possibly be important?

Thank you to those who help pave my path as well as those who present obstacles, for both bring the precious gifts of peace and practice as I travel through this lifetime.

The best present that I received this holiday season was an invaluable new perspective.  Something that I can use for years to come which will blossom and ripen as I grow… and all for the price of sharing love and compassion towards an unlikely teacher.

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