Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Perspective


This is a view from the top of Cypress Mountain on Vancouver's north shore at 6:30am last Wednesday. Besides being a beautiful picture, it's a great metaphor in itself for what we can see vs what is actually there.

If we look closely, we can see the tops of or lights from 18 skyscrapers, a few lights in front of them (Lion's Gate Bridge), and a mass of something- buildings or houses to the right and above them in the picture. In short, we see a bit of light making it's way through the cloud.

Many people focus on the beautiful orange that welcomes the sunrise and a new day. Others may focus on the gloom brought on by the clouds that so often accompanies a winter day on the west coast. Others still may marvel at the height of human achievement constructing buildings that reach above the clouds and whose inhabitants seem to be busy 24 hours a day as evidenced by the number of lights on at daybreak.

What most people will miss is the dynamic that is played out on the city's streets every day.
The homeless at Hastings and Main streets.
The traffic jams through the Burnaby light stretch approaching downtown.
The early risers getting a run in before work.
The kids that are about to wake and play, oblivious to the same clouds that might depress others.

Vancouver is one of the most dynamic cities in the world- and yet as depicted in one photo- everyone sees something different, and everybody misses something as well. The facts remain the same, but the way they are represented can dramatically affect the views and opinions we embrace.

The use of a city so many Canadians are familiar with serves to prove the point I hope to relate to other people and dynamic situations. We have to be careful with how married we are to our own views and opinions, because the world is always changing yet we view them with the same eyes and interpret things with the same brain.

Just as we may have missed how many layers there are behind a great photo - we often miss a lot of depth behind people who say something we don't agree with at first glance.

The only reason you took more out of a single photograph was because you read the whole blog today... just like the only way we move past our own bias' in many conversations- is to have the patience to allow the speaker to continue. If we leave a photo or a conversation after simply forming a first impression- we can become naive, and even flat out wrong- in our views, opinions, and how we interact with the world around us.

It's no mystery that in times of conflict within a group, the last person to speak often brings new insight. Many times it's because while others were bickering their points, they were observing and gaining perspective from all sides instead of trying to win people over to their view. Even if you are right, the patience to fully understand someone else's view can aid in complex negotiations or arguments a lot more than jumping in too early on one point to 'educate' (ie try and convince) someone.

Let's all try and condition our mind to think past 'snapshots' in terms of our perspective, and move closer to deeper views that come with the intent to understand.

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