I love the definition of perspective even more than I love the word perspective. I love it because, to me, perspective is a "growing" word and it's still always subjective. Often when our perspectives change, it's because we have gained more knowledge or experience or have been open to at least understanding another way of thinking as it pertains to our situations, facts and judging relative importance.
I spent Sunday night through Monday morning (8:00PM to 4:00 AM) moving furniture, storage bins, clothing, shoes, baby seats and toys, photo boxes, etc. out of my soaking wet closet and bedroom after discovering my water heater had been leaking for days. It wasn't fun. It wasn't fun discovering the wet floor, trying to figure out the source of the water and quickly moving heavy furniture with a newly healed, formerly fractured hand. It wasn't fun staying up until the wee hours of the morning (on a work night) waiting on maintenance to show up. It wasn't fun sitting on the living room floor blow drying my shoes. It wasn't fun having to throw out letters, photos, kid artwork and cards that I stupidly stored in a cardboard box. It wasn't fun, but it was necessary so I did it.
The majority of my experience, looking back, is humorous and sleep deprivation makes it even more funny but I'm not going to go into the funny stories associated with the Great Water Heater Flood of 2011. I am going to talk about a way in which I now regard the situation, the facts, and how I judge their relative importance.
My perspective changed when I arrived home from work yesterday. Maintenance had been in my apartment most of the day ripping up carpet, changing out the water heater, and they left behind a few ginormous fans to finish drying the floors out. The maintenance guys had also taken it upon themselves to move my bedroom furniture back so that I wouldn't have too. Yay! My shoes were finally dry so I began arranging them, in pairs, in the corner of my kitchen. I made quite a few trips with musty smelling shoes stacked and spilling from my arms.
Perspective: I immediately thought of the kids I know personally in Honduras with only flip flops to their name. Or the people I saw with no shoes or wearing someone else's worn out hand-me-down shoes, sizes too big or too small. Here I am with a kitchen floor full of multiple pairs of cute heels, boots, flats, tennis shoes, flip flops, slippers, and sandals. Multiple pairs. Some I don't even wear; I just keep them around because I might wear them again. I don't feel wrong owning all of these shoes; however, I do regard my situation differently. The night before, when armed with a blow dryer and feeling frustrated that my shoes were wet, I kind of felt sorry for myself. Now, I realize that I'm lucky to have shoes to damage or lose in the first place. I have things to miss, while so many others don't even have the essentials to live comfortably.
That change in perspective, or reminder, led me to take another step back and look at the Great Water Heater Flood of 2011. Water.
Perspective: Anyone been keeping up with the crisis in Somalia (and other famine stricken parts of the world)? Anyone ever been to a third world country? We take water for granted. I knew this and learned to take it less for granted after visiting Honduras last year, but I still take it for granted, obviously.
While I don't want water all over my apartment, I realized that I have a crazy abundant supply of water. I have so much water I didn't know if it was leaking from the sink, the bathroom plumbing, or the washer. I'm so unfamiliar with everything that houses and processes water for me that I didn't even consider it might be the water heater for a good hour into the clean up. I have a tank of constantly heated water while people are dying because they don't even have a sip of water to drink. People are dying because they can't water their crops, hydrate or feed their animals, and so they starve. They suffer. And I have water all over my apartment floor.
My situation on Sunday night/Monday morning wasn't fun. Water damage can be bad and can create mold. I have little irritations toward the maintenance crew who waited what felt like an eternity to show up, but at least I have a maintenance crew. I had someone to call. I didn't have to handle the whole situation totally by myself.
Regarding my situation in a different way, weighing the facts and judging their relative importance, this is what I've decided:
If my only complaint is that the situation wasn't fun, that I'm exhausted, that I had to apply some muscle to salvaging my stuff and go to work sleep deprived, then in the grand scheme of things my situation wasn't that important. I have more than what I need and am thankful to have been reminded of that.