Monday, February 28, 2005

Perspective and How to Know When You Need Some

One use of the word perspective is of the artist's tool - to help you create a picture with some believability, so that, as opposed to the picture you drew with crayons as a munchkin, the people in your latest work do not look as if they could destroy their house with a well-placed karate chop. It helps you to gauge the world, to place objects into your world so that they relate to each other in a natural and believable way. Houses are bigger than people. Things look smaller if they are farther away. Chances are, you can't see the front and both sides of a building at once.

Perspective is also a useful life tool. I like to use perspective when I start to feel whiny or just a little peckish for something, not sweet, but maybe salty. I like to remind myself that there are many, many people in the world right now who would have fought off their neighbor for the leftover spaghetti that I threw away last night. I don't know hunger, really, so why am I whining to myself about wishing I had a bag of those barbeque flavor Baked Lays in the kitchen? Does it work all the time? No. Otherwise, I would not be carrying around 5 extra pounds in Baked Lays and tortilla chips alone. But it's worth a try. I believe strongly in the power of guilt.

We could all use a good dose of perspective on occasion. Here are a few examples: do you have a flush toilet in your house? Congratulations! You are in the minority worldwide. Do you have a house? Congratulations again! There are many here in this country who do not. Are you a little pudgy around the middle? Congratulations again! You live in a country where it is far more common to be overweight than to starve to death! Can you believe the price of tomatoes? Well, can you believe we can drive to the store in our cars and buy tomatoes from Chile without selling any children? Boy, don't you feel lucky now?

Here are a few common phrases that, should you hear yourself uttering, might prompt you to take a Perspective Moment:
  • I couldn't live without my cell phone/notebook computer/blackberry/huckleberry.
  • I would never buy another car without heated seats.
  • I don't think I can sit through another middle school combined band/chorus/drama club recital night (guilty).
  • I have too many books to read and not enough time (guilty again).
  • The arugula in this produce department always leaves something to be desired.
  • Give me an extra-large tub of popcorn with extra buttery goo, and a Diet Coke.
  • I need a new crank for my bike - the one made out of space age carbon-fiber-titanium-nitrate compound alloy. It's lighter than cotton candy and stronger than Bruce here's farts. My old one is making a funny noise when I go 92 revolutions per minute.
  • I need a new manicurist. My last one kept talking about her Bishon Frise until I thought I was going to scream.
  • If I can't get five more tanning sessions in before we have to leave for our cruise, the whole thing will be ruined and I'll have to stay in my cabin the whole time. I am so under the gun here.

Heard a good one recently? Add your own. It's fun!

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