I practice what I call “perspectivism.” It bounces something like a ball in perpetual motion. The ball I saw a moment ago, speeding from the wall, is not the ball coming back to me. I hold it differently this time; the grooves on this side and that are reversed. I know the ball, but not this way.
Most of you know how much I love my metaphors. Well, consider the ball the core of my modus operandi. It’s how I try to live – understanding the world from others’ perspectives. How can I ever know it better, love it better, live in it according to a holistic appreciation of everything that is, if I don’t try to understand all of it?
Sounds great, yeah? Here’s the problem: I give over so much openness (call it passivity) that I give others the opportunity to be patronizing. It is inherent in each of us to want to be the authority on something – the source to whom people come with questions. We know it best. Who else is there to ask? Though I mean to recognize the authority in others’ perspectives on a given aspect of life, I do not mean to suggest that my experience of that part of life is absent. Rather, I can say as much as the other person that I know this thing; it is only that we know it in different ways. My wish is to understand that way in which another person knows it.
But recently it seems that I have given people the opportunity to lecture me as though they were THE authority on any number of life’s “disciplines.” Are they? No. They are authorities on their perspective of it, but rarely are they THE source for answers. It seems to me that true authorities have taken the time to listen to everyone’s perspective and pieced together a formidable understanding in three-hundred-and-sixty degrees.
So what do I do? I am increasingly frustrated with friends and family that “guide” in teacher-student dynamics. What questions do they ask about my vision? Perhaps I just wish others would try this difficult approach to understanding life that I do. Maybe, though, I just need to work on patience.
What do you think? Is this a worthwhile endeavor of mine? Should I tame my desire to see things constantly in new ways? Where am I stretching my humanity too far?
Or am I on track, being reflective in a moment of turbulent anxiety?