Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Putting Problems Into Perspective

Thinking of such a concept helps us to align our emotional states. If we think of the size of the universe—a sphere with a radius of about 46 billion light years, comprising 300 sextillion stars (300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000), many of which dwarf earth—we get to begin to wonder. And wonder is all we can do when we also consider how small things get. The size and nature of matter particles and energy are marvellous concepts. And when we wonder about the myriad mystery and complexity within our reality our problems become smaller.
That’s the nature of problems—viewed in isolation, they have the effect of constricting our mental and emotional sight—how we view our lives.
Perspectives Closer to Home
Our world is a universe within the universe.
Just as there is myriad mystery and complexity beyond the earthly realm, there is just as much mystery and complexity in relational life, within science, and the emotions. Why do we feel the way we do? Why is there so much suffering in the world?
To travel across the other side of the world is no big deal in comparison to space travel. If we were to do that, our travels would reveal many multitudes of problems that we, of ourselves, have never had to grapple with or grasp. Problems of genuinely catastrophic poverty, pandemic disease, extinction, genocide, national racial hatred, etc. If we live in Western life, we probably have very little practical idea regarding the true harshness of life.
Then, if we are interested, we can travel through history to identify the suffering of our ancestors—to recognise the scale and variety of their problems. We don’t just go back one or two generations—though, there is plenty of material there—we can go back centuries or millennia. In many ways we live in a fortunate time. Yet there is also a tragic irony—we perhaps have never felt less safe. The more we know, the more powerful our intellect for life and knowledge, the more we worry.
The Morphing of Perspective
When we put our lives and our problems into proper perspective, against the size and enormity of space and time, our perspective begins to morph before our eyes.
Our problems, losses and worries don’t change, but our view of them does.
Somehow what we know to be something bound to cause us pain doesn’t hurt so much. We have not been numbed, but we have been enlightened. There may even be a sense of cruel irony; we may mourn the fact that we no longer feel all our pain.
Isn’t it amazing that we don’t want our pain until we can’t access the truth of it any more? Sometimes resilience, of itself, is a loss of something vitally human. But it is a better problem than having no control over the devastation of our pain.
***
Perspective gives us perspective. Opening our eyes to the deep beyond never more surely puts our problems into perspective. When we can wonder, our problems, whilst they are still there, change and reduce in disabling significance.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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