A Change in Perspective
As I write this post, it is about 5:30 pm on a Wednesday afternoon and I’m sitting on my patio gazing over my back fence at a brand new twenty foot high three car garage that recently took the place of what used to be a spectacular mountain view. I write about this incident because it set into motion some interesting and curious events that led me through an array of emotions. My perspective initially produced sadness, irritation, anger and disgust, which gradually gave way to complacency and ultimately – though I never would have believed it – transformed not only into acceptance, but gratitude.
Now, believe me, if this post had been written the day after we met the man – a developer – who moved into the house across the alley from us – my tone and words would have been quite different. We were shocked and outraged. Wanting to be neighborly, my husband and I introduced ourselves. With a very matter of fact manner , the man led us to his back yard and explained his plans. Our efforts to become better acquainted were met with the words “You all are being very gracious, but it is not like I’m asking your permission.” I remember watching his lips move but not quite receiving the impact of his words until we got back home and almost simultaneously uttered to each other – “Did he really say that?!”
To be fair, the man is a competitive water skier, and a large structure to house his equipment is apparently a necessity for him. It is his property after all, and he has every right to build what he wants there – though it seems a bit peculiar that the new construction was reserved for his various vehicles while he apparently has elected to use the existing garage as his living quarters. The other strange thing is that this monstrously high structure actually eviscerated his own view of the mountain – a detail that I didn’t actually notice until the initial anger subsided and my mind became curiously reflective.
But the event spun a whole series of reactions into play. Over the initial few weeks after we met the man, we were consumed with bitterness which cast a long, dark shadow over our usually very happy household. We couldn’t look out the window without feeling irritation and decided that we didn’t want to live in a continual state of anger. So we began looking for a new house. Our initial efforts were somewhat non eventful, but we did actually end up finding something not far from our old home that we really liked. It was a short sale. We made an offer that got accepted after what seemed like an excruciatingly long period of waiting during which we put our current home on the market for sale or lease.
When the sign went up in our front yard, I felt an intense sadness that grew more and more pronounced when people came into the house to view it. My husband and I both were struck with how much we loved our home, the memories we shared in it (including watching all three of our children grow from babies to toddlers and beyond), and the things we did over the years to make it our own – not the least of which was a fairly substantial remodel.
The realization that we were actually moving was bittersweet. There were many things the new house offered that the old one didn’t, and we were excited about the possibilities. But we began to notice that the longer things played out, the less enamored we were and the more we became focused on what we would be losing. Well, as luck would have it, the sellers defaulted on their contract and we ended up canceling the sale.
And now, I couldn’t be happier! The monstrosity across the alley that once produced feelings of bitterness and resentment is a constant reminder for me to count my blessings and remember what is truly important in my life. I am grateful to have a home at all – which I realize is more than many people have right now. But I am most grateful for the new appreciation and insight this change in perspective have given me on my power to frame and reframe the experiences that determine how I feel on any given day. And to recognize that the old adage – home is where the heart is – is really true. The degree to which my heart is open is exclusively dependent on me and everything I see really is a matter of perspective. Makes me wonder what else I might be seeing that has an entirely new and empowering interpretation I have not yet landed on…