When I was 15 years old, that was the oldest I'd ever been. Fifteen was the top, so relative to the rest of my life, I was old. Then when I was 24, that was the oldest I'd ever been. And then when I turned 30, that was clearly the oldest I'd ever been.
Perspective is framed by our own life context, established by a linear sequence of past events. Experiences are synthesized, analyzed, and understood from the point furthest along in life. Judgments, decisions, and emotions are expressions of a perspective from that point.
Our perspective at 15 or 24 or 30--looking backwards through time--is incomplete, ignoring the perspective yet to be gained by the next 30 years, God willing, or the next 30 after that. Perspective considers only a portion of life. It's hard to gain perspective from events yet to come.
But what if life's perspective is better considered as a whole--perspective from a simultaneous and completed lifetime, rather than just from one point somewhere along the line. What if we could understand and explore life's perspective as a 15 year old, and a 45 year old, and an 85 year old, simultaneously, including all of life's experiences. How would that change our perspective? How would that release us from the insecurity and anxiety about the unknown future?
In the recent movie Arrival, the heptapod aliens expressed thought as one circular, simultaneous thought--neither linear nor sequential, without a beginning or an end. Instead of using letters, arranged from beginning to end to create words, and instead of using words, arranged from beginning to end to create sentences, the heptapods expressed thought as one, simultaneous, circular expression--no beginning and no end.
So too was the heptapods' perception of time--circular and simultaneous, rather than linear. The heptapods understood the completeness of their lives all at once, including the good and the bad, the life and the death.
In Arrival, the heptapods' gift to humanity was the perspective of an entire life lived. An understanding that one day certain eventualities will take place--certain highs, certain lows, certain victories, and certain losses. Seeing it from the end, the heptapods provided perspective as if the unknown had been revealed, easing the insecurity and anxiety of a future unknown.
While it's impossible for us to know every plot twist--or any plot twist for that matter--we can try to live with the perspective of an entire life lived. How would our new vantage point change our appreciation for each day?
Buddha explained this in his own way. Fully appreciating that beautiful, priceless vase sitting atop the fireplace mantle means knowing the vase is already broken--knocked over by the goings-on of life. The vase, from a circular, simultaneous perspective, is already broken, so we should fully appreciate the vase now. This is Buddha's extreme appreciation. Eckhart Tolle describes the Power of Now. Ironic it seems, that the power of now is intimately interwoven with perspective of the whole.
Prior to my son's birth, my perspective was from the vantage point of a childless man who deeply loved his wife. Without the perspective of my son's birth, I thought my love then was the best of my love. That my love for all my family and friends, throughout my entire life, was the best of my love.
Boy was I wrong. Without such perspective, I didn't know the best of my love was yet to come.
Now, my son and my wife, they get the best of my love, especially as I watch her indivisible bond with him.
If only my perspective throughout my entire life had included the best of my love, how would I have lived my life differently?
If only my perspective now included the best of my love yet to come. To act now with the best of my love from an entire lifetime.
John Jr. will cry because he is hungry or gassy or uncomfortable, upset because this is a big deal from his perspective. We know he is not in any real danger. So too must be God's perspective for us. Be not afraid.
The three of us will have highs and lows--victories and failures. But whatever life brings, my family's ultimate gift to me is the best of my love.
And so I am reminded of the Eagles' lyrics,
"Here in my heart I give you the best of my love
Oh sweet darlin' you get the best of my love, oh
Sweet darlin', you get the best of my love"
John Paul Fiske, Sr.