Broader in a Moment.
I was traveling westward across Denver, my daily afternoon commute. It was bumper to bumper traffic just like any other day. A man in the pick-up truck next to me had just flicked a cigarette out of his vehicle and onto the ground. The cigarette landed close enough to my car that I couldn’t see it. My mind started its normal routine: I hope that cigarette didn’t hit my car. How rude of that guy to do that. I wonder how much a littering ticket is. Do cops even give tickets for cigarette butts?
Somehow in the midst of all of this brain rambling, I noticed that the view of the mountains was particularly clear at that moment. Although there hadn’t been much snow in the past month or so, I observed a short ridgeline with snow on it and I imagined that I was climbing up that mountain, breathing the crisp air and stomping through the snow on my way to the summit.
As I snapped out of my daydream, I realized something powerful. In that moment, as much as I was stranded in traffic with the rude guy with the cigarette, I was also standing (well, sitting in my car) at the base of the Rocky Mountains. My location was what many people would consider a vacation destination. I thought “How long did it take for those mountains to form? How many years have those mountains been here, and now I come along and make believe that this whole experience is about me, my car, and my inconvenienced travel plans.”
I turned the radio off in my car. I didn’t want to hear anything. I just wanted to sit among the mountains and observe myself as part of the nature that surrounded me. And just as I had this moment where my perspective was broadened, I recognized that so many people with me on the Interstate had not had that same experience and that wasn’t really their fault, just as it wasn’t my fault that I was stressed and annoyed until suddenly I wasn’t stressed and annoyed anymore.
You see, we’re all just out in this world, trying the best that we can and sometimes we lose sight of the fact that there’s a lot more going on than just the story of our lives, at least the way we like to tell the story, anyway.
Broader Perspective on Purpose
This seems like a reasonable continuation of the conversation about compassion from the previous post. It’s worth being compassionate with ourselves and with others that we get lost in the minutiae from time to time (or rather frequently…). As I’ve said before, I am not perfect, but I do care about becoming my best. But to become your best, you first need to become acquainted with your true nature. This can be described in many different ways and will not be the same for everyone. Here are my thoughts at this moment:
I figure, some force, call it God or whatever, made me and here I am, ready to explore this reality. I am ready to see what I am capable of, test my limits, and to be my best. Where I find fear, I want to ask “why?” Where I become annoyed, I want to dig deeper to learn about myself that much more. Where I lose sight of my nature in exchange for some fleeting desire for comfort, I’ll smile and say to myself “Not today. Not now. I am greater than my worries, stronger than my fears, and tougher than my struggles. These truths alone will bring me the deepest comfort, even in trying times.
For that reason, I like to explore these thoughts on purpose rather than relying on circumstance to cause their arousal. I have mentioned meditation many times before as it is a favorite grounding technique for me. I like that meditation can be integrated with a spiritual practice or it can be completely secular; it really depends on the particular practice and the intention of the practitioner. Other perspective building techniques may include prayer, contemplation, or the acquisition of knowledge, generally speaking. I have found that reading about topics that I have little knowledge of helps me to grow a broader perspective, as does traveling, or intentionally striking up conversation with people from different walks of life. All of these are great ways to build broader perspective, more compassion, and to get in touch with your nature.