I’ve been thinking about perspective. Sometimes I find my perspective becomes my sense of truth, and I forget that what I’m seeing is simply that: my perspective. If I can take a step back, a step away from the situation, just a little distance, then I can get a different perspective. But stepping away can be a big ask when you are depressed or anxious or fearful and my world (the way I’m seeing it right now) seems to be so real.
When I’m depressed, I’ve learnt that a different perspective is often all I need to be able to view my world differently. Sometimes a friend (or even someone who is not a friend) can help me get a glimpse of a different view. More often than not, just a little time out helps – like going and having a nap (or having a bath, or watching a movie or listening to some music) – and when I wake up/re-emerge, the world has changed a little – even if only a few degrees, and that’s sometimes enough to give me a different perspective on the world; a different perspective on my world.
That’s one of the insidious things about depression (and other forms of mental unhealth) – it fools us into thinking how I feel right now, that’s how life really is – when actually, it’s just my current perspective. The lie is ‘this is it and this is all life will ever be’ and it’s such a lie – but we can’t see that at the time, so we believe it. And that’s why we need a little alternative perspective – so that we remember that ‘these are just my feelings’ – nothing more, nothing less. These feelings might feel like my current truth, but they are just feelings and they come and go. How I feel tomorrow will not be exactly the same way I feel today. And deep down I still believe in HOPE. I wrote a poem earlier today about life without hope because I remember what that feels like. But this is my reminder that life, my life, my world, how I see the world – it’s just my perspective, it’s not my truth.
And actually I do believe in hope. I believe there is always hope – it may be hiding somewhere and may take some effort to find, but hope is there if we will search for it and take find it and take hold of it.
My encouragement to you, if you are struggling, is to remember that THERE IS HOPE. And that if the world looks bleak, take a moment, take some time out, so that you too can find a new perspective, a new way of looking at the world.
And if you take some time out and you still struggle with your view of the world, try making a list of all the things that you are grateful for, the people in your life, the experiences you’ve had, the things you’ve done that you have enjoyed and/or are grateful for. That can be a good place to start. Make that list and hold on to it, and let that list provide some hope – some sense of what there is to be thankful for, and what you might want to build on in the future. And tomorrow, add to that list anything you can think of that brings you joy (a quiet walk in the forest, the feel of the wind on your face, having a bath surrounded by candle-light, the smell of vanilla or lavender, the taste of … you get the picture). Having a list of things you are grateful for and/or enjoy can give you something to hang onto when life seems bleak. There can be better days. And we can go on to enjoy new experiences.
Sometimes we just need a little perspective.
Its a game and I’m losing
A swimming pool and I’m drowning
It’s a wood fire and I’m burning
The end’s coming around soon
It’s ice and I’m skating
From on high and I’m falling
A volcano and I’m erupting
Almost time to fade away
A butterfly whose hours are numbered
A fledgling about to be attacked
A fish about to swim into a net
The game is almost over
Just a dusty piece of string
It could have meant anything
Just swaying in a gentle breeze
It was supposed to mean something
So you light the piece of string
At once ablaze, simply burning
I wasn’t made to be that way
But I succumbed and here I lay
It’s a game and I am losing
A pile of leaves and I am burning
And when the embers are cold and black
The remains will scatter with the wind
What chaos brought me here?
Divine plan and haunted history
A few friends, a few smiles and tears
And what will be left when I am gone?
No legacy to call my own.
These words speak to me of love and parting, of tender affection and memories. It might relate to romantic love but it could also describe a dear friendship, and implies a closeness, a gentleness; a relationship that the author will always remember with fondness.
I have been clearing out a spare room and going through old paperwork and small treasures from my past, and I came across this poem on the back of a card given to me by a good friend almost thirty years ago.
With the benefit of age and wisdom (I hope), time, perspective and hindsight – I think it’s fair to say that I appreciate the sentiment in this poem so much more now than I did then. I have an appreciation of the gentle tone the author has used, the tenderness of the affection expressed, and the softness or weightlessness of the language – like a description of the touch of a feather, or the texture of silk. I appreciate the sense I have of an impending separation without the need to specify the facts; the reference to how someone might be perceived from an earlier chapter of one’s life.
Looking back, it was a beautiful verse to be given, and I feel honoured to have been held in such regard.
And today the words are still beautiful and I just wanted to share them with you. I guess it’s always good to take a few moments every now and then to appreciate those who have come and gone from our lives, and to appreciate and be grateful for those who remain.
Wine-stained memories, shards of which –long since extinct;
Money, time and memory’s folly,
Splintered picture can never be restored,
Crumpled dreams – broken glass and rubble;
Life repaired but what is lost remains lost.
Glance into the future – an unwritten history of what might be,
The hourglass continues to run its course,
What is unseen, unknown, remains lost to us
Unless we make it so: Create and Live!
Or sit and sup and wait to die.
Expectations of prior generations already drowned,
Fewer possibilities survive, – like seeds
The chance of life if only one would take and plant them
And take the time to let them grow,
Before winter comes and we are lost,
Our lives reduced to endless snow.