The Importance of Perspective
Updated: Oct 11, 2019
I recently spent a little time near Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. As a 5th generation Californian, I am constantly amazed by the wondrous, natural experiences Colorado has to offer. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and the accessibility to its wild, geodiversity is hard to beat.
I will never argue against California’s equally incredible geodiversity (If not more so, with the ocean). However, the last few years I lived there, I had noticed a shift in the way we were allowed to experience it. Not just legally; if you had the privilege of visiting Yosemite 20 years ago or more, and have also gone recently, you know what I’m talking about. (In 2018, 4,161,087 people visited the park, according to nps.gov.)
Population density certainly plays a big role. By virtue of traffic alone, most special places lose their glamour eventually. Try driving back to the Denver area from Vail on a Sunday evening in the winter. What should be about an hour and a half trip, regularly takes three hours or more.
My perspective as a Californian didn’t see this as a huge issue. Prior to moving, my commute to work was only 16 miles up the peninsula in Silicon Valley. This would regularly take me close to two hours in each direction - sometimes more. That’s an average of four hours out of every day, five days a week, sitting in traffic.
Native Coloradans hate people like me (although I promise, I try my best to be a nice person). We drive up property values and contribute to all the road and trail traffic, where there was very little before. I won’t even begin to get into us tracking up the fresh, untouched snow on a powder day. I’ve seen that blog far too many times.
However, life is all about perspective. The economy is thriving in Colorado. The Denver/Boulder metro areas have grown into a respected community within the tech industry. Without us transplants enjoying the amazing weather and healthy quality of life, businesses wouldn’t be so motivated to set up new offices here, in the numbers that they are. Not to mention, we’re only a few hours flight from just about anywhere in the USA.
The culture of Colorado is one of the outdoors and it encourages you to become close to nature. To enjoy it in whichever way you choose, even knowing there may be risks to your life and safety involved. It really feels freeing and for the most part, unspoiled. There are a few bad apples here and there but most people are good.
The majority of parents teach their children to be safe and responsible in nature, from a young age. I started hiking with my son in a baby carrier when he was six months old. He loved it then and even now, as a five year old, it is still his favorite thing to do.
Near The Great Sand Dunes, there is a small town called Alamosa, in central Colorado, where I stayed. Just outside of this town, there is very little light pollution in the evening, on a clear night. Even less than where I live in the foothills, just southwest of Denver. I was also blessed to be there during a new moon, further creating greater contrast between the black sky and bright stars. It was magnificent! With the naked eye, I could see all sorts of constellations, planets and the outer band of our galaxy.
I noticed a father and son near me with a telescope. We struck up a conversation and before long, I was looking up at the stars through their perspective. As magnificent as the sky was before, it was an entirely different experience through the lenses and mirrors within their telescope. The difference in detail, the planets and nebulae, was astonishing. It was like a whole new universe. However, even to star gazers 26,000 years ago, the sky would have looked very much the same. The only thing that changed was my perspective. It had been magnified to unfathomable levels our great ancestors could have never imagined.
Perspective is the greatest factor in how you view your life. The old "glass half full, half empty" cliche has stood the test of time for a reason. The more experience(s) you pick up throughout your life, the easier it is to change your perspective. It’s hard to let yourself worry about silly things like money if you have traveled and enjoyed conversations with some of the most impoverished people on the planet. You can see the genuine joy in their eyes and smiles on their faces, by simply spending quality time with friends and family.
Many times when we are feeling down and the future is looking bleak, the only thing we need is a change in perspective. We may be standing too close to the painting to see the whole image clearly. We need to take ourselves out of the equation if our emotions are too wrapped up. This is often the case. Stand back - away from yourself. Give your heart and your mind space to find the solution you seek. To gain wisdom from the situation.
In the past, I have defined wisdom as, “Knowledge and perspective, acquired through experience and analyzed with the proper balance of logic and emotion”. You cannot learn to balance logic and emotion without knowledge and perspective. Therefore, without perspective, wisdom can never be acquired.