02 May 2012

Without a doubt, the most valuable aspect of my life has been the period that I've lived in Europe.  I've spent five years over there--over two in Spain and over three in Germany.  I've also spent four years in the army, and I've lived in every geographic area of the United States.  I've also spent over eight years in college, studying literature (especially world lit), Spanish, Education, and Teaching English as a Second Language, which has also opened up my eyes to many different ways of looking at the world.

These things have been important to me because I've felt my eyes and my mind open up considerably, especially in the way that I'm able to see wisdom in the words of others.  I've learned that there are many wonderful people on this planet, and I've had the great honor and privilege of meeting many of them, though you would have heard of none of them.  But they're people I can learn from, if I but keep my mind open to their lessons, if I but listen--no, hear--when they speak, if I pay close attention when I read their works.

Living in so many places has helped me to see just how differently people from other places and cultures see the world, and just how valid their perspective is, no matter how much it may differ from mine.  People in Spain tend to see relationships differently than people in New England, and the Germans tend to see work differently than people in Arizona.  And that doesn't matter--neither group's perspective is wrong, and neither is necessarily a perspective that others should adopt.

Perspective can cause us to see a beautiful sunset as a boring, ordinary part of daily life, or it can help us to see the beauty in the many "ordinary" things that surround us. Almost everything we see or have access to is a miracle, either in its simplicity or complexity.

The flowers that grow in our gardens have gone through an amazing process of turning from a seed to flowers.  The rivers that flow are fed with water that has gone through an incredible cycle of evaporation, falling as rain, flowing to a certain area where it can join the river.  The fact that I can write these words and put them on the internet so that friends I shall never meet in South Africa and Hong Kong can read them is one of the greatest miracles of our times, yet the internet has quickly become "normal," a tool for businesses to make more money.

But I've recognized something very important--I can refuse to see the world and the things and people in it as "normal"; I can choose to see the marvelous qualities of everything, but I have to work at it, for our societal norms tell us to value conformity and the status quo.  I'll always look for the beauty in trees, the soul in the eyes of the people I meet, the wonder of the flowers that come out each spring, the loveliness of children at play.

And I'll do so because I choose to do so, for those are the important things in life.  I'm not here to make money or become famous--I'm here to love and to live.  If I focus on that and maintain a great deal of responsibility (yes, i will work), then I can't help but live a full life, for there are many more rewards available to those who are easily satisfied and entertained, and I choose to be more than satisfied with the reward of a child's smile or a friend's "thank you."

No comments:

Post a Comment