Me: That’s a perfect ledge to put all his house plants on!
Husband: [scowling] Oooh, nooo, I wouldn’t want plants in my face all the time.
We’d been helping our son Jesse move into his new place, and I was admiring a sun- drenched ledge in the kitchen. THERE WAS A SKYLIGHT! Surely this was the envy of anyone struggling to keep plants alive in ordinary rooms.. me. I was thinking, I’d GET to look at plants. He was thinking, I’d HAVE to look plants.
My husband’s viewpoint was a surprise and has me thinking about the importance of perspective. At first I thought he was nuts. Who doesn’t feel better next to greenery? Especially when they’re schlepping though a pile of dirty dishes. But perspective really is everything.
I grew up in a household where there was only one way to see things — no discussion, period. Believe me, there was no changing viewpoints in my family. It’s taken me a lifetime to reverse the damage, and lately I’ve been practicing. Whenever a car behind me veers full speed onto the shoulder to pass or cuts me off to change lanes, I say to myself “He must be late for something important.” Otherwise, I’d be pissed all the time. They might just be a jerk, but choosing a different point of view is really working on my nerves.
People ask me the secret to staying married so long and it seems like viewpoint is an important factor. Knowing how HE sees things helps me better understand why on earth he’s doing this or that. You might still be mad but you calm down sooner. Understanding where each other is coming from has meant less conflict. In other words, listening more. Also, It’s just plain interesting to see life from someone else’s eyes. Their point of view often makes more sense than my own. Really, what have I got to lose?
Changing viewpoints opens up new possibilities.
Friends are great for presenting a new perspective. We’d planned a trip years ago and I considered cancelling because I was so nervous about it. (I don’t remember where) When I told a friend about the trip, her first words were, “Wow, that sounds like a great adventure.” This surprising response let me see my trip from someone else’s point of view, and it was amazing how fast my dread turned to excitement!
Seeing another point of view has often opened my eyes to new possibilities. Finding out there was a better way looking at something reduced anxiety and, hopefully, some wrinkles down the road.
As I helped my son carry boxes from the old place to the new, my mind got busy arranging furniture into cozy little niches. Meanwhile, my son was looking forward to keeping everything open and airy. It took awhile, but eventually I did remember that this was his place, not mine. ha. Motherhood dies hard!
My parting advice:
Me: Don’t hang anything on the walls until you’ve lived here for a while.
Jesse: Isn’t it the opposite? Wouldn’t that make me feel at home sooner? Obviously I was thinking about making unnecessary holes in the wall. But that’s ridiculous. Ever hear of spackle, silly?
Weeded out this week: The impulse to blurt out my opinions… about everything. More to the point, keep my trap shut!