Looking Through Another’s Lens

by gillis

Sometimes taking a step back can give one a new perspective on things. Like when I’m given the chance to see my significant others through the eyes of someone else and it’s a wonderful reminder of their best qualities. I might lose patience with my husband’s storytelling, then someone tells me how interesting they find his knowledge of antiques and history. The special care he gives to elderly people and his reverence for their life stories is especially touching. Or when one of my children acts in a way that has the waft of entitlement to it and I wonder if I am raising monsters, that’s the time a teacher or coach unexpectedly shares an example of their kindness which shows they are navigating the world as concerned citizens. They do internalize the values we’re trying to impart here, even if they don’t always show on the home turf. These welcome shifts in perspective are heartening and help me to reframe my thinking in the most positive ways.

This isn’t a reflection on one of those heartwarming moments, however. This is a shift in perspective that shines a glaring light my ability to ignore things for extended periods of time. I’m able to walk past piles of papers, skirt past clumps of Legos, and even ignore loose pieces of dog kibble crunching under my feet. This epiphany came a very busy week filled with commitments each day after work and all weekend ranging from meetings, basketball games, and dance classes. Yesterday, when I walked into the first floor bathroom of our “historic” home I suddenly realized that if I were to encounter this bathroom in, say, a gas station or a rest area, I might decide to get back into my car and drive on rather than risk using that particular bathroom. At the very least, I would take every precaution to limit my hand to surface contact. Nothing heartwarming about a rust-stained sink with chipped porcelain covered in toothpaste and soap residue, a floor covered in dust and kitty litter rocks, and a toilet, well, a toilet that hasn’t been scrubbed for several weeks. Sev-er-al. Add a roll of toilet paper to the counter which hasn’t made its way onto its holder and the overall effect might be described as Benign Neglect Meets Crack House Chic, although I’m not expecting Pottery Barn to market this look anytime soon. Unless they, too, are reframing their thinking.

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