Arranging the Pieces: Seeing other perspectives

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By Tabitha Bozeman

Perspective is a tricky thing. I am often surprised by hearing someone comment on a song, show, book, or even the weather, and express a perspective of it that is completely opposite of my own. In class earlier this week, I mentioned that we’d better enjoy the colors while we can, because the leaves are falling so quickly.

I love this season so much, but it really does come and go in a flash. A student commented that they’d miss the leaves mostly because the bare trees would be so ugly and we’d have to see them all winter. This opinion surprised me. I love the leaves and miss them when they are gone, but I also think the bare tree branches look like lace against the sky, so I still enjoy the view through the colder months.

When I first moved into my office, my desk faced the road and stop light. It didn’t take long before I turned the desk in the opposite direction so I could see the mountain from my window. This change in perspective has afforded me many moments of appreciation this fall while the leaves change, and I love seeing more of the sky. I am glad I made that adjustment.

Sometimes, though, our perspective shifts as a result of something we can’t control and don’t expect. This has happened to me a couple of times this past week. I’m not going to lie, those kinds of shifts can be exhausting. But, they also offer opportunities to re-evaluate perspectives we may take for granted. Taking advantage of these opportunities as they present themselves can lead to new ideas, views, experiences, friendships, and situations. For myself, the shifts in perspective I experienced this week felt quietly momentous, and although it has been exhausting to walk through these shifts, it has also been motivating.

I have been motivated to listen to others’ perspectives more fully, and to articulate and think through my own in more detail. My perspective on perspective has always been that we are all doing the best we can, where we are and with what we have, but this week, I have been challenged to extend the grace of that perspective, not only to others but to myself. Sometimes, that is the hardest part of the perspective-shifting journey – remembering that the beauty and peace and gratitude aren’t a place to arrive, but the experience along the way. Or, as Henry Miller put it: “One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”

Earlier this week when we were discussing the leaves, I challenged students to find something they could consider from a new perspective and reminded them to be kind to themselves and others when they noticed perspectives shift. It’s often an unsettling place to be.

Tabitha Bozeman lives in Gadsden with her family and teaches English at Gadsden State Community College, where she is the editor-in-chief of the Cardinal Arts Journal. The opinions expressed in this column are her own. To contact her, email tabithabozeman@gmail.com.

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