I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 27, 2020


Misty scene

Last night as as I crawled into bed, making myself comfortable and wondering just what I might write about this morning, I thought about perspective. Do I want to write about myself and what's going on in my life, or what I perceive as the state of today's world? It all depends on how you look at a situation, whether it seems positive, negative, or neutral. Or whether you can get enough distance from a situation to appreciate its meaning.

Here we are in the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, and I am trying to make sense of things. I was born in December and think of it as "my" month, when the days are short and the nights long. I actually prefer the shorter days, since I have trouble getting to sleep when the sun is still shining, but I must do it anyway for much of the year. These days it seems that I barely begin my day when it's time for the sun to set. The actual length of a day at this latitude is barely eight hours at this time of the year, so I'm not imagining it. It gives me plenty of time to sleep and let my body recover from whatever I've subjected it to during the day. 
The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don't have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it. —Chris Pine
One of the things I like to do in these Sunday morning musings is to find a quote to share, or one that might help me gain some perspective. Sometimes I think I will never get going, never find an actual theme to work around, and other times it refuses to budge away from some predetermined direction. This morning it seems that it's the latter situation, and I wonder how to tap into the message I'd like to deliver.

I keep thinking about how sometimes I feel like a body with a brain, my eyes like headlights shining out into the world, taking in whatever lies in my path. It is rooted in the small perspective of a single human, with eyes to perceive the world, and a brain that tries to interpret what it sees. That is the narrowest perspective any of us deals with, and it reminds me of the parable of the blind men who are confronted with an elephant, as they try to figure out what it is. The moral of the parable is that humans tend to claim absolute truth based on their limited, subjective experience as they ignore other people's limited, subjective experience. I believe that sums it up: there is no way for me to have any sort of truth emerge from the limited perspective of my own single viewpoint.

Therefore, I can also try to figure things out by widening my perspective, and becoming involved with the larger world, and hopefully a more objective truth. Now that in itself is a dilemma, for where can I look to find the news of the world? In one sense, that is not much different from the blind man trying to figure out the meaning of the elephant. I myself choose to read several different news outlets, but I realize they all skew towards my own preconceived beliefs. There is no objectivity in these outlets, but frankly I am wondering if there is any place, anywhere at all, to find out the truth of what is happening in the world today. My solution is to take it all with a grain of salt, reading widely but with skepticism. Or perhaps there really is no objective truth, everything is subjective and I must learn to deal with that reality and not try to find something that doesn't exist.

Whether it's true or not, I feel that we here on Planet Earth are at a crossroads. One where we decide to come together and agree with one another, or break into factions that attempt to convince the other side that it is wrong. This doesn't seem to me to be a good solution. But what else can we do? How can we find a way out of this dilemma? Unfortunately, I cannot see any way out, so I do what many of us have a tendency to do: deny the conflict and distract myself with diversions that give me pleasure. It will work for awhile, but I know that underneath the conflict still sits there, waiting and knowing that it's impossible to carry on like this indefinitely. 

When I am beginning to relax enough to fall asleep at night, there is one tiny thread that keeps coming back to me: that I am not alone. That somehow there is a higher being present. I can only access its presence by laying aside my preconceived notions, my own limited perspective, and allowing the presence a chance to take over my thoughts, take over my troubled mind. I find myself in prayer. 

Before long, I am feeling less troubled and despair takes a holiday. When I allow myself to pray to that higher power, I am comforted. And I realize the truth that I am not alone, that giving myself a conduit to another reality is the only way to deal with the dilemma of my limited perspective. It also doesn't make me feel conflicted, and even the tiniest little bit of joy begins to emerge from the darkness, and the world has transformed from dark to light. It's as if the sun has come over the horizon and I can have hope for a better world.

It is amazing how that shift in my perspective transforms, well, everything. How I was in despair and once it lifted, I feel the presence of others here with me. My family, my friends both actual and virtual, I can feel myself lifted up and held in the light of love. I had forgotten about love, how looking at the world through the headlights of my eyes, how different it looks when love is present. I believe it was Martin Luther King who said, "I have decided to stick with love, since hate is too great a burden to bear."

That is where I end up this morning: in joy, feeling the presence of love all around me, feeling the presence of my dear partner next to me, and having found myself once again able to greet the day with love. I am so very grateful for the perspective of being a person in the arms of LOVE. 

Until we meet again next week, be well and be sure to find plenty of ways to say thank you. I know you will.


Linda Reeder said...

I never know where we'll end up together in your Sunday morning mind travels, but I did not expect it to be prayer and a higher being. I can't follow you there, but I do know about love. I find love where I give it to others. It's not easy giving love to someone who should be close to you, but has a completely different perspective of truth, but if I work at it, the separation decreases and love seeps in around the edges.
Practicing love is not always easy, but it is always rewarding. I work at it. I guess we are all works in progress.
Sending you love on this still dark Sunday morning.

ApacheDug said...

Hi DJan; as always, a very thoughtful piece. I can well understand these struggles you’ve been having, I wish I could reason things out like you do. (Or perhaps I don’t want to reason... I don’t know.) But I still felt a small whoosh from my lungs when I read Martin Luther King’s quote, thanks for sharing that. Hate is an awful burden.

Anyway, I’m glad to know a good & kind person like yourself, and will come back and read this again later, I always seem to do that. I hope your week ahead is a peaceful one.

Elephant's Child said...

I always look forward to your Sunday (my Monday) musings. The perspective you give me frequently expands my own horizons. No higher being for me - but a huge YES to the power (and necessity) of love.
Thank you.

Anvilcloud said...

In the past I have come across charts that show where various news outlets fall on the political spectrum. There are certainly some that don’t skew too far from centre, so they are useful, especially if you one how they skew.

I know this isn’t the main point of your article, but i noticed this and it’s the only comment that I have.

Arkansas Patti said...

Agree with you and Martin Luther King's feeling about hate. I really don't have the strength to carry hate. I sometimes feel the need to change those who disagree but then I relax and just try to live the best life I can and be as kind as I can and not try to push that rock up the hill.

gigi-hawaii said...

Interesting piece about perspective and the power of love over hate. I find that interpersonal stress can get to me sometimes. When that happens, I just count my blessings, such as my home, my marriage, my children and grandkids. It makes it better. Just sitting in my patio and gazing at my plants makes me happy.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, this is such a wonderfully thought provoking post. Yes even the part about the higher being. There are so many indications that there is something beyond us that we can relate to and that somehow connects us. Don't know if our little brains will ever figure it out but embracing the mystery can be to our benefit, as you have seen. I love your posts because you are so open and honest.


Far Side of Fifty said...

Pray without ceasing all times of the day and night! I am just a tiny grain of sand on a large beach...but my prayers are always answered sometimes not the way I want them to be answered but answered none the less. Faith that God is in charge and knows what is best for all his children gives me strength and hope.
I don't watch much news...just the highlights...I hate all the bashing. It seems it is everywhere except the Hallmark Channel:)

Rian said...

DJan, I think of myself as an entity consisting of a body, mind, and soul... each working together to make the most of this life we've been given. I guess this is my prospective. I choose to trust these 3 to choose what is best for me... and mine... at the same time being aware that we (mankind, other people) are all in this together, but that everyone has their own perspective... and knowing that, we need to be respectful and kind. And yes, I believe a Higher Power/God/the Universe/Whatever exists - whether it exists inside ourselves or outside or both I'm not sure. But as you mentioned, there are times when this awareness is strong and we do know that we are not alone.

John's Island said...

Your post today takes me to a place of reflection. Looking back on my time in the blogosphere, I’ve found little bits of wisdom, from time to time, in other’s blogs and even in comments others leave on my own blog. This is one of the reasons I prefer blogging over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I’ve spent the last year or so trying to put more focus on living in the present moment, letting go of those worries about past and future. The past is done, we can’t change it. The future is uncertain, we can’t be sure of how it will unfold. As I’ve studied how to focus on the present moment, I’ve found a greater awareness of a deeper consciousness all humans share. I think what I’m talking about is exactly what you described: “When I am beginning to relax enough to fall asleep at night, there is one tiny thread that keeps coming back to me: that I am not alone. That somehow there is a higher being present. I can only access its presence by laying aside my preconceived notions, my own limited perspective, and allowing the presence a chance to take over my thoughts, take over my troubled mind. I find myself in prayer.” Another insightful post; thank you DJan.

Susan Sawatzky said...


Glenda Beall said...

This is such a thoughtful piece, DJan. I struggle with the same things and I live alone so I don't have anyone with me to talk to about what I think and feel. I also wonder where we can find truth in what is happening in the world today. I am not a cynic who doesn't trust anyone, but I search for truth, too. We all have our own perspectives and even when think a friend has "drunk the Koolaid" I want to understand his thinking, his perspective. We had a new child born into our family on Dec. 24. I wonder what this world will be like when he is a grown man. I can't worry about it because there is nothing I can do. A friend in his seventies has a fear that our country is going to fall apart and he wants his granddaughters to have what he has always enjoyed. He is angry that there might be changes he can't live with. I am sorry he is so upset because whatever the USA becomes in the future, we the people will adapt and make it work. I too often go to a higher power when my monkey mind will not settle down. We need to know we are not alone. Great post.

Red said...

It's interesting to observe others perspectives. Some people are very overt and emphasize and flaunt their perspective. We sit back and watch. Yes, I think we're going to have to come together but like you I don't think it will happen. It's goo that you have something that gives you peace .

Betsy said...

I turn to the Lord in prayer so many times during the day that it would be impossible to count. When I become stressed or worried I try to take it to Him and know that He has teh best for me in His plans. Thank you for such an insightful post. The news is rarely watched in our home, except for the local highlights and weather. I truly don't believe many news channels are unbiased so I would rather have peace in my heart than the strife of the world.

Rita said...

There is perspective of time and space and ability and knowledge...and then the spiritual perspective, too. I always try to reach farther out to get a bigger picture. Since we are just singular beings, I can't help but believe there absolutely could be something beyond us humans with our meager perceptions. I have met too many people who can't see beyond their own noses--LOL! If I have the ability to look back and learn amazing things from my own small bit of this world...it gives me comfort to think there is a so much bigger picture than I can ever imagine. Makes this speck of humanity quite content. ;)

Galen Pearl said...

"humans tend to claim absolute truth based on their limited, subjective experience as they ignore other people's limited, subjective experience"

This is a perfect description of the difference between truth and perception. Truth is truth -- by definition it can't be untrue. But as you said in the great analogy to the blind men and the elephant, we label our subjective and limited experience, our perspective, as truth. And then the fight begins.

Tara Brach says, "The world is divided into people who think they are right." I love that quote because of course we are waiting to hear the other side, the rest of the sentence, but there is no other side.

I love your Sunday morning musings. Wishing you a peaceful and healthy new year.

Tabor said...

You do reflect a great spirit of joy about you. A spirit of lightness in the dark. I do not believe in a higher being most of the time. I do think we fight a battle of good and evil and that is what is I see and tell myself as I worry about the state of the earth and the state of the government make me more prejudiced than I should be.