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Consider The Vantage Point

Updated on June 27, 2012

Every story has been said to have multiple sides, infinite angles, and different interpretations. Adding to this phenomenon is the fact that every human processes stimuli differently. Every experience is subjective to how each individual perceives the world around them. It kind of goes hand in hand with the saying of “the glass is either half full or half empty.” The answer, of course depends on how the questioned perceives or processes their lives. What I want to know is who says the glass has to be anything? Why can’t it just be, simply in existence?

Here’s another question:

If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody hears it, does it really make a sound?

That is one of the first questions brought up in one of my philosophy classes. It is so open to interpretation and perspective that there could be any number of answers. Every person in essence, takes a different vantage point. Some answer with regard to the animals in the forest, or the cycle of life in decay and growth, or even the idea that the sound doesn’t exist because no one heard it.

Now place this principle in every day life. Consider being stuck in traffic for example. You start to slow on a long stretch of freeway, knowing your house or work is still miles away. You get pissed, worried about missing a deadline or being late for work. Maybe you get upset about not getting to your home sooner so you can relax from a long day at work. That’s understandable, and very valid. You have every right to get angry or upset, and maybe you do. You might feel your shoulders tensing, or your grip tightening around the steering wheel, as your body begins the physiological processes and consequences of you getting upset. Maybe your muscles start aching after a while. Okay, now pause.

What if you could have changed that process from the very beginning? Pulling up to the stopped cars in front of you, and considering the poor individual that may not be going home today. Maybe considering the single mother who got a flat tire and will be late picking up her child. Or even the many individuals that might have gotten in a car accident. At least you aren’t one of them. You have the choice to relax in your car, perhaps turn on some music and be reminded of old times. You could give someone a phone call whom you haven’t heard from in forever. You can meditate, accepting the traffic and your free time in your car. Maybe you are starting to feel your shoulders relax, your breath deepening, and you body calming, to the calm of your emotions. Which path would you rather choose? Yeah I’d rather choose the first one too…

Now maybe, place this vantage point beyond the scope of an every day situation. Place it in a much larger scale; maybe that of your past experiences. How are you living your life these days? I think everyone has had a past hurtful experience or two… whether it be a break-up or the loss of a job, a friend, a family member, you name it! It’s a part of life, and honestly how would we know what happiness, joy, love, and all those wonderful gushy feelings were, if we didn’t have some sort of sadness in our lives? For myself, I know that sometimes if I am reminded of one of those past situations, it is easy for me get swept away by it, and dwell in the pain, rather than noticing the experience. I have recently realized that you can’t control your mind, where it goes, what it ends up thinking about… but you can control your reactions to those thoughts. If I simply change my mind set into looking at it from a different direction, that of awareness and acceptance, it becomes indescribably less powerful. I can remove myself from the idea that the pain is still there… because in reality, the pain has since long gone.

I could come up with many, many more examples, but instead I will simply leave you with this thought.

I know it is easy to get caught up in our own biases, expectations, and desires of any given situation. I am nearly suggesting that perhaps some momentary awareness can come from looking at the other side of what you are experiencing….


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