A matter of perspective!
Linda Soller | Jan 13, 2014
Have you ever had something happen that’s cool and spooky at the same time? At the last Chapter Four writing group meeting everyone was working on their free form writing time, or writing lab. Our topic for the meeting had been the art of journaling and twice for my writing lab I’d attempted to tie the topic to what I was writing. It wasn’t working and I found myself compelled to write about an experience from earlier in my day. At the end of the time anyone who wants to can read what they’ve written aloud to the group. We don’t believe in pressuring people to read, but we encourage people to share so we can be supportive. Our group is more about support than critique, but I digress. The writing stopped and we sat poised to listen. One member of the group read his piece and as I listened I was excited and a bit spooked at the same time. I enjoyed his piece which was about giving money to a homeless man who stood near a local fast food restaurant’s drive-through lane. He described how he stepped away from his own issues to care for another person in need. I could hardly let people finish making their remarks. I wanted to read my own piece. The group, ever supportive, stopped talking and let me read. I had written about the same man in the same location. The whole group stared at me when I finished. We were all a bit stunned. What were the odds that we would both see and be impacted by the same person, and then choose to write about it?
We all agreed it was amazing, but there was more to it than that. My friend and I had come away with such different perspectives of the same situation; a homeless man standing with a sign by the exit to the drive through. My friend had stopped and given the man some money, and then wrote about his perspective on his own problems verses the problems of the homeless man. He came away not caring how the money was spent, but wanting to help in some small way. I, on the other hand, had observed how the homeless man was nearly invisible to those of us going through the drive-through lane. I tried to capture the inhumanity exhibited while my friend’s actions were humanity epitomized. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t try to help, because I was too busy observing.
In a world full of pain and suffering there are just too many of us who persist in observing without acting. When I used the word “spooky” earlier I may have given you the wrong idea about how it felt. My head thought it’s just an amazing coincidence, while my heart thought it’s more of a lesson directed at people like me. Here was a man, who stood in my path seeking help, and I did notice him, but I did nothing to help him.
After our meeting I drove home where it was warm and welcoming. I kept thinking about the two perspectives and how I wished I’d reacted differently. It was then I decided to tell this story to you. I thought maybe it’ll help someone be more like my friend next time, and less like me. It’s good to be observant, don’t get me wrong, but it’s good and important to act. The next time you see a chance to act on your faith, take it. The next time you see a chance to help someone in need, take it. The next time you miss such a chance tell someone about it. Maybe in owning our lack of action we’ll be able to encourage others to do better than we’ve done. I have a new perspective of the perspective I had that day in the drive-through. What will it take to change your perspective?
Have a great week! :o) Linda