Sometimes I challenge myself in small ways. For example by turning right instead of left on my walk. (This seems like it would be simple but I am a creature of habit, so have to literally tell myself “turn right!”) I did this the other day and noticed a small dead end street hidden from view when I came from the other direction. And the shrubs, flowers, even the shading of the houses looked different. Same houses, same flowers, same shrubs but a subtle difference in lighting and angles because my way of looking had changed.
Perspective. In my chaplain training we talked about perspective often—about shifting our own, inviting others to shift theirs. This is not always easy. I find I am often invested in my views, my ways of being, my way of being perceived by others. I polish the most used facets of my beliefs until they shine like a diamond. If I change them, so I tell myself, people might think I am weak or lacking in faith. Or perhaps I will disappoint others because I “always” act a certain way. If I decide to step away from my “comfortable” perspective of myself there will be consequences. It may be my own discomfort with my internal self rubbing up against unpolished facets of my inner truth. It may be with family and friends who don’t know what to do with this “misbehaving” person before them. Their perspective hasn’t changed. I am not standing in the same place I always have, so I may look blurry. Others try to tug me back into place, to make sure I fit properly into the frame. Some days it is easier to fall back into comfortable perspectives.
My work with the labyrinth is a gift in helping me embrace perspective. As I walk the path, the turns, some sharp, some soft, gentle curves, makes me aware that the same path offers many views. This is even more apparent when many walkers are on the labyrinth at the same time, for some may be journeying toward the center, others back out and others may already be in the center. Since you walk the same path in and out, you can’t tell if someone is moving toward the center or returning . Even as you walk, the curve of the path may be leading you away from the center and your eyes may be focused outward and then a few steps later you face toward center and your view shifts again. The center is always in the same place; it is just the walkers perspective of it that shifts. One lesson offered in labyrinth training was to “walk with soft eyes” meaning to have a soft focus. That is also an aspect of perspective—to be soft and allow for blurriness at first. After all, you are looking at your world in a different way.
I have gotten used to trying on a new perspectives over time. It is easier to step to the side, sidle around the back, peek up from underneath the roots, peer down from the clouds. And as my world opens up, I become more open to the world and others. Still it is an ongoing practice, like changing directions on my morning walk.