The power of perspective

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Perspective is a powerful thing. This weekend we’ve had visitors from Taiwan with us – my brother-in-law and one of his students — and we did a lot of sightseeing around Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The promised sunshine never made an appearance. Both days were dismally wet and grey, and I often found myself saying, “Oh, I wish you could see this on a sunny day. It’s so much nicer in the sun.”

Sunday afternoon we visited the abbey of a local Benedictine monastery to see its wonderful stained glass windows… the ones I’ve mentioned before, here and here. During the tour I wandered into the gardens and tried to take a few photos, but felt uninspired without sunshine. I knew they would be lifeless and uninteresting. Until I looked closer.

Westminster Abbey Bell Tower

Last week Diana on her Just Wondering blog pondered what we miss when we focus on the wrong thing:

“So, I wonder.
What happens when we focus on one thing in this life,
one thing to the exclusion of others.
In that singular process, I wonder how often is it true that we don’t see
what is right in front of our faces?
That beautiful, deliriously inviting thing
that God is doing just for our benefit;
that gift that’s waiting to be unwrapped and appreciated.”

Reading her words again today made me think of a conversation after church this morning. We were admiring the intricate work on a traditional Paiwan tribal outfit brought from Taiwan, and one woman commented on the lovely woven design.

Except that it wasn’t woven. When we looked closer we could see the design had been painstakingly hand done in fine cross stitch, and bordered by perfect lines of identical shells.

When we focus on the overall, we miss seeing the detail.

That’s a problem I have in my writing, too. It’s easy for me to get hung up on the story as a whole, thinking of what the reader will take from it. With that perspective I miss providing the little details that will enrich the whole and may be the difference between ordinary and spectacular.

Perspective changes everything. In life, faith and writing we see so much more when we take a closer look, or choose a different viewpoint.

Can you think of an example where changing your perspective made a difference? 

~

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12 thoughts on “The power of perspective

  1. Laura Best says:

    I’m constantly in a state of changing my perception, not necessarily in writing but in life in general. Changing our perception in a situation allows us to envision life the way others see it. Our way is not the only way.

    Writing is about finding a new way to write about a subject that has probably been written about before. Each writer brings some new and fresh perspective to the page. We give our readers something new to ponder, hopefully something that will give them a reason to keep turning the page.. Great post, Carol.

  2. Sue Harrison says:

    Great, great post. I needed that perspective on a gray day after an almost sleepless night caring for my mother!

  3. joylene says:

    Stunning photographs. I recently changed my protagonist’s voice from 3rd person past tense to 1st person. It made all the difference. Suddenly this man who was held at arm’s length from my reader became not just alive, but intense and funny and incredibly endearing. I was left wondering why I had waited so long to change his voice. And then it dawned on me that I felt uncomfortable writing in a man’s perspective and feared I’d do a less than stellar job. What happened was I changed to 1st person and he took over from there.

    Great post, Carol.

  4. I had this happen on Sunday, when my two sons were helping each other listen and reason in a discussion we were having , in the afternoon after church.What a blessing to see the peace and discernment from young men of God !! Amen!! This post is a special blessing to me!! Thank YOU!!.

  5. Sharing it on my face book page

  6. Wow, Carol. I am honored that you would mention my post in your own. And this post is just lovely. The photos are stunning – and that cross stitch work? Oh, my! Thank you on so many levels!

  7. I must watch my perspective all the time. It makes all the difference in how I see my world. When I discover that my perspective has been skewed, I find it sometimes difficult to change it. I find a verse of scripture that is meaningful in the situation and focus on it. My perspective may not change in an instant, but after a while, the ugly shadow cast by my slanted viewpoint vanishes in the light of truth. Excellent post, Carol. I always stop here. I’m never disappointed. Blessings to you…

  8. Laura — It’s good to see things from another’s perspective, isn’t it? It helps us appreciate the diversity in people, as well as in writing.

    Sue — Being a caregiver can be difficult. I imagine looking for something positive to focus on helps you empathize with your mother and appreciate all the caregiving she did when you were a child.

    Joylene — Changing to 1st person definitely gives a whole new perspective to a story. As you know, I’ve done that with one of my novels, too. For me, it was a challenge getting the voice to consistently sound masculine, but I loved being “in his head”.

    Carla — Thanks for sharing my post with your FB friends. I’m glad it resonated with you.

    Diana — I should have asked permission to share your words, but I hoped you wouldn’t mind. 🙂 Thanks for your post that reminded me there is more to be appreciated when we take time to focus on something specific than when we grab an overall quick impression.

    Carol Ann — You make a good point that change doesn’t always come easily or quickly, but if we open our hearts to the word of God, He provides the added incentive and assistance.

  9. karen evans says:

    Carol, excellent post and nudge to absorb more carefully thing we pass by. I think this can go in each and every aspect of life. Thanks

  10. S. Etole says:

    you’ve caught such beauty ….

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