Life is about perspective. Or so we hope. Or maybe, so we are reminded. A number of years ago, I stood in front of my mirror, trying to lump my hair into something that didn’t resemble a villainous Star Trek character. To no avail. The strands refused to cooperate, as did the rest of my appearance. A frumpy outfit hugging a poochy belly.. green tinged skin glowering under fluorescent lights. Bloodshot eyes pegged into a puffy face. And a nice hint of a double-chin laughing at me from its less than obvious hiding place. I hated what I saw and was angry at all the maladies I felt had been unfairly heaped upon me. Why, oh why, I bemoaned, must I look like a freak show in a fun-house mirror? It wasn’t fair. Others didn’t have to go through this. Why did I? As I scrubbed my teeth, I silently grumbled about the days when my hair cooperated, my clothes fit and my face wasn’t a replica of the Grinch. I turned off the water, placed the brush on the counter and was about to shuffle from the bathroom when something caught my eye. A droplet of blood on the white tile. As I stood there, puzzled by where it came from, another splashed on the cold surface. Then another. And another. And then, before I knew it, blood poured down my legs. Big, gloppy clumps, churning as if someone forgot to turn off some unseen spigot. And at that moment, everything ceased to exist. My hair, my clothes, my skin. I hugged my belly with one hand, while with the other tried to catch the blood. As if somehow that was going to halt time. But of course, it was too late. The little being that had caused me all that silly angst was lying in a useless heap on the cold bathroom tile. A girl, as I would later find out.
She, is what it took to gain perspective. I wish I could say I always carry perspective with me. But I don’t. I get frustrated and annoyed and irritated at the little things in life. And make more of a big deal than is relevant or necessary. But then, there are times, when I get a hefty slap of perspective upside my pointy little head. For example, last week, I was riding the subway, minding my own business, when a woman stepped on my foot with her stiletto heel. Ouch, didn’t describe the pain. But like any self-respecting masochist, I refused to go see the doctor. Ignore it and it will go away; the Russian Field of Dreams. But under threat of ice cream cut-off from my hubby, off to the doctor I went. Fractured, of course. A wrap and a hideous half boot I must now wear; the latest in glam ortho gear. I grumbled and bellyached about the atrocity I had to lug around. How hideous I would look. How uncomfortable. All the way home, I kept my head lowered, convinced everyone was looking at me and my hobbled hoof. As I sat at my computer that night, I still groused about my stupid foot, the stupid woman, the stupid subway. Until I got an email about a dear friend. A terrible tragedy.
I don’t know why it takes a tragedy for me to gain perspective. To stop focusing on silly things, like an ugly shoe on a foot that will soon heal.
I know I can’t right the wrongs, stop the wars, heal the sick, but at least I can focus on the important things and bring a positive perspective.