The power of perspective


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?