A Matter of Perspective

Menuchas HaNefesh, Yishuv HaDaas, Reframing… it really doesn’t matter what title we use… the bottom line is that at times we need to put thing into perspective.
I learned this lesson when I was in 6th grade. Not in school or on the playground, but from “Return of the Jedi”. Straight from George Lucas’ script…
“BEN: Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

Later I learned that Rashi said it first in Parsha Shelach about the Meraglim viewing themselves as grasshoppers. Most recently on Father’s Day I forgot all that I learned from the above.

My wife planned the perfect father’s day for me. I got a photo cube to put on my desk at work (retro, but cool), a great breakfast, a trip with my family and brother (who was visiting us from NYC) to both a nature museum and a zoo, met up with some close friends who were in town, and then home for some pizza. I was aware the entire day that my family loves and appreciates me. I felt blessed that I didn’t work on Sundays. I was happy to be living somewhere with an excellent quality of life for myself and my family.
As we walked into our home, I noticed something that bothered me. I let it bother me too much, and my fantasitc day was totally wiped from my personal hard-drive. All the fun and good times were out the door.

How often do we get caught up on things that really don’t matter? I know for myself, even once, is one time too many. Someone doesn’t say hello to you in shul, you can’t find your car keys, a toy is left on the floor, the bakery sold the last chocolate cream pie, or you get a stain on your shirt while drinking something that’s not on your diet to begin with. Of couse, none of this is from personal experience. 🙂

I remember hearing in yeshiva, and then reading years later in the Rav Dessler biography about Rav Eliyahu Lopian. The story goes that he was once in Yerushayim waiting for a bus. As he sat with a sefer, he stopped learning for a second and looked up to see if the bus was coming. He told the bachur sitting with him that had he still been in Kelm, he would have gotten an hour long mussar shmooze. Why? Because looking to see if a bus is coming doesn’t make it come any faster! To get distracted from learning to look for a bus? What’s the point? You are in control of yourself, not in control of the bus.

Of course, I only remembered this story two days after Father’s Day. I was biking tonight, trying to clear my head and gather my thoughts. I was hoping, somehow, to gain a better perspective on things. Not the big things like family, work, tuition, summer camp, bills, shopping for Shabbos, or even what to wear tomorrow. I’m working on trying to gain a better perspective on the little things that shouldn’t bother me, but do. Zeh Lo Chashuv, right? What’s one thing that bothers you (that’s really not so important)?

I looked at my wife tonight, and thought, “Father’s Day, hah. What a joke. The real star is her. She puts up with me, deals with the kids, and navigates each of life’s ordeals with a calmness not seen by many.” I wish I could be more like her.

15 thoughts on “A Matter of Perspective

  1. socialworker/frustrated mom

    Nice ode to your wife. I am like that often I could have an amazing day but however it ends off is the feeling I end off with. So if one little bad thing happens at the end I am left with the bad feeling and forget all the good of the day. It’s a hard thing to shake off. We are in control of our actions and that is what we have to do to control that and not the situation which is not in our control. I love R dessler and michtav meeliyahu. Thank you for the thoughtful post.

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  2. Pragmatician

    Well I’m a little like you, I can get mad about minor inconveniences disregarding many berachos that I do have.
    Try to make a mental list of the most important things every now and then, and you’ll see that the little nuisances will appear ridiculous, not two days later but right when they come along.

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