Beau September 18th, 2008
If you subject yourself to the news lately it has been a bit heavy with so much going on in the financial markets. Not to mention our military and economic challenges. But in large measure it seems to me we’ve created this mess and now it’s time to work out of it. And I use the term “we” very loosely. There’s a bit of an overhaul due on the economic front of course, and whoever wins the election this fall will have quite the agenda going forward. I could just be uninformed of course, but I think we’ll turn the corner just fine. I’m a fairly optimistic guy normally, perhaps because I just don’t believe in entertaining the negative hype. There are good days, and not so good days. But they are all days.
In any event I always find the dynamics of perspective enlightening. One minute you can be whistling pleasantly in the garden, walk into the house for a drink of water, and then hear the media describe how the world’s ending. That gives just about anyone a good reason to head back into the garden! Or you might be walking in cold drizzle and fog, and then an hour later find yourself at 32,000 feet in bright sunshine, looking out the airplane window at the bright, puffy clouds below, everybody cheery as can be. Perhaps those are physical shifts of perspective that foster the mental shift. But that mental shift is a choice for most of us too, isn’t it? We can do the same thing wherever we are, if we choose to. I know for me that choice isn’t easy at times, but it’s always there.
Really I don’t mean to make light of the challenges the nation faces, but I remember a familiar refrain of my mother while growing up: “This too shall pass.” Whether she was reminding herself of that truth while rearing four boys, or helping us to understand the same I don’t really know. Probably the former! But it’s true really. Looking back over the last 20-30 years, how well do we remember the challenging economic times for the nation? There are a few highs and lows of course, and the market crash of 1987 comes to mind. But even that was a short event over time, and the grand pace of history has a sort of rhythm to it that most of us remember fondly even with the challenges.
I think my point is that it helps to look at the long haul, to gain a distant perspective, and to try not to give in to the negative extremes that pervade so much of our media’s reality. There’s a lot of good in the world, and many of us know first hand how lucky we are to live where we do. We have much to be thankful for, and much to work for positively in our lives. “This too shall pass” helps frame events in that larger perspective. Hope and faith are important. And there are always so many ways to look at things.
When I look at the landscape, and think of the history we’ve traveled, I know my lifetime is simply measured as one part of a greater whole. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I hope to make the most it. And there’s another great secret about shifting perspective if you can find it. Many of you already know this, or remember it. Take a walk with a young child, through the woods, or in a park, and place yourself in that beautiful, imaginative place they know so well. It’s really, really neat. At least until they want you to start climbing trees and playing in the mud. Then it’s time to fix a mower or something! Have a great day.