Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12/22/11—Putting Things Into Perspective

Today's Draw: The Prince of Dishes (Cups) from the Kalevala Tarot. Is something really pissing you off or upsetting you right now? Is it worth the energy you're putting into it? Could you use a little perspective?

The little white book that comes with this deck says only this about this card, "learning from and about your feelings." It came to me at the perfect time, just seconds after I was given some emotional perspective. 

Earlier in the day I had gotten some really frustrating news about a project I've been working on for a while. You know, in advertising, a client will say they want something new and fresh and so you'll get all excited and put a lot of energy behind the new and fresh and when you deliver it they'll be all happy. Then a week later you'll get an email saying they've decided to stick with old and stale. Very frustrating. I was excited for their new direction. And I cared less about my exact ideas than I did about their new direction. But at the end of the day, I'm a freelancer and, having already gone a couple of rounds trying to keep "the vision", there comes a time when you just have to shut up, smile and do what you're told.
So there I was, peeved and exasperated, when I got a call about someone close to me who has cancer. This is another situation I feel very frustrated about. Because this person is insulating themself and their family from the emotion of all of this at this time, I feel distanced—distanced from what I want to say to them. The diagnosis is still fresh. It's the holidays. So much is up in the air, in the dark and in denial. Gauging the situation from where I stand, now is not the time to pull them aside and have an emotional conversation. And, of course, I fear I'll never have that opportunity. But right now there are larger considerations that override our relationship or my needs, understandably.

And just a few hours before, I was pissed about the client thing. Perspective can be pretty powerful. 

In a few days, we're all going to be getting together with friends and family. There are a lot of logistics between now and then. There can be a lot of complex emotional dynamics involved, too. 

I've lost enough loved ones to know that sickness, death, depression, addiction and the other things that threaten to take our loved ones away change everything. People we didn't have the time for become more important. People we thought we didn't like become precious. And issues like an overcooked turkey, a child who's slow getting dressed and a present that didn't show up on time become trivial when all you want is for someone to know what's in your heart before they die. Or when you feel powerless to take away their pain and fear and anger over their illness. 

A while back I advised one of my friends, "when you're upset about something, ask yourself if it will mean anything to you five years from now. Because those are the only things worth our energy." She quotes it back to me all the time. I find myself forgetting it all too often. 

So just take a moment over the holidays when something pushes your buttons and ask yourself that question. Will it matter in five years? Take yourself out of the moment and put things in perspective. Although a lot of things may try, nothing can ruin your holiday without your permission. And when you're sitting around that table full of family and friends, look each in the eye and feel how much they mean to you, even if they tend to get on your last nerve. Because the only thing worse than having to spend this holiday with them, is having to spend all the rest of your holidays without them.

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