Perspective (noun): a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance.
Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment, and I was worried. I don’t usually worry about doctor’s appointments, because there’s usually nothing to worry about. But I just had a gloomy feeling about this one, and I was stressing.
I’ve had a couple of skin cancers, and recently had two spots removed from my back. One of them wasn’t healing right, and had a black spot in the middle. A black spot just like the one on the poster in the exam room, 1 – 2 millimeters from the previous biopsy. So I made an appointment and waited.
(Spoiler alert: I am fine. This is not a reveal.)
As I was getting ready (and looking for a little sympathy), I posted a vague status on my Facebook page about being nervous. As I hoped, friends hopped on it immediately with words of encouragement, and I felt better.
One of the replies was from my friend M. He had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, too. The one where he went to his oncologist to find out what kind of medications he can take for the duration of his incurable, inoperable cancer. So he can function and feel better and make memories with his wife and young son. And he got what he considered good news. He’s going to try another type of chemo, with the hope of slowing down or shrinking the tumor, buying more time. Which he called “a very, VERY good thing.”
I couldn’t help but compare his good news to my bad news. And I felt a little ashamed that I had lost my perspective.
Later in the day my friend L started a dialogue about gratitude. She shared a story about a friend who is bearing a difficult load, and that her “silly, everyday problems” are trivial compared to her friend’s.
Relative importance. Perspective.
Then later in the day I read the blog of a Missouri pastor, who shared a couple of stories about perspective. I’ll share with you a bit of the last one, a story about a man visiting a dying family member.
His brother-in-law requested a wet cloth for his lips. Then he said, “We start off wanting $1,000,000. Over time, that keeps getting pared down until all we want is a little water on our lips.”
There it is. Perspective. Things are as big a deal as we make them. No bigger.
It’s not about what happens to us. It’s about how we choose to respond to what happens to us. And my “problems” (dare I even call them that??) are nothing. Not parenting a child with the learning disabilities, not having a spot cut off of my back, not caring for my MIL.
Because the worst thing that will happen to me today is better than the best thing that will happen to someone else. And I’m not going to forget that any time soon.
How do you keep things in perspective? Or do you? Or should you?