May 27, 2019

A Reminder of the Power of Perspective

Yesterday I had one of those moments that reminded me of the importance of perspective.

I decided to attend service at Agape, a spiritual center here in Los Angeles. I don’t make it to Agape very often, but when I go I like to arrive in time for the 30 minute meditation that precedes the service. There are no latecomers admitted to meditation, so if I don’t make it on time, I’m out of luck. 

Sure enough, despite leaving my house in time to make it for meditation, a series of odd choices on my part (failing to get over in traffic in time and missing my exit, pridefully passing up $5 parking in search of free street parking in a crowded neighborhood) I arrived about 7 minutes too late. 

After a quick knee-jerk reaction of annoyance with myself, a thought occurred to me: There’s an important reason why I wasn’t supposed to be in meditation today. 

So I milled around the lobby, looking at books for sale. I picked up a few intriguing ones, hoping one would reveal itself as the reason I was meant to miss meditation. None of the books seemed to be my reason. I felt sure the reason would be completely obvious. Just as I’d given up on the books, I turn around and I’m standing face-to-face with an old yoga friend. We hug, and standing behind him, I instantly recognize my reason – my friend Alyson, who I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. 

She and I had grand adventures in London when we were 20, as well as traveling to Spain, Morocco and Brazil together. She’s one of those people who I’ve always felt great affection for, but we’d lost touch for decades, having not lived in the same city in all that time. 

As soon as I saw her face I knew she was the reason I had to miss meditation, so I could be there at that moment, seeing her. 

Perhaps I would have still seen Alyson even if I had made it to meditation (though in a crowd of hundreds, maybe not), or if I had wasted my energy stewing over being late. But in my heart I knew that something significant was bound to happen. I chose to assign meaning to ordinary delays.

What apparent obstacle or delay in your life can you choose to assign a different meaning that what appears on the surface?

Perspective is a choice – a choice like deciding not to get pissed off about being late. Or a choice to view any setback as an opportunity. A choice to decide that even when things aren’t going according to your plan, you’re still right on time.