Ingrid Michealson’s voice belted out of my computer speakers a minute ago: Wise men say, only fools rush in. But I can’t help falling in love with you. Goosebumps covered my arms as I typed away. Soon, through the beauty of Spotify shuffle, her next tune broke the spell: All the broken hearts in the world still beat. Let’s not make it harder than it has to be. It’s all the same thing. One mercurial playlist quickly summed up the struggle between knocking down and putting up the barriers that seperate us from connection and feeling.
What is it that makes us in one instant want to spontaneously run off to Spain with someone in a whirlwind of love and in the next feel like matters of the heart are trivial? Why can we find meaning in everything at some points in life but in others feel all together meaningless?
A very wise friend of mine answered these questions with a note on perspective. He commented on how quickly we can slide from being in the moment to stepping outside of it and looking at it with more of an analytical judgement. Think of the difference from actually doing something, watching someone you’re invested in do something, and observing as an impartial or even critical spectator. It may be that we take ourselves out of really feeling things in order to take it easy as an observer.
Finding fault in others or ridicule in feelings or actions is easy. Anyone can do that. Any one can flip on a game and critique a coaching style or a player’s technique, whether it’s valid or not. Anyone can grumble about the state of the world or find an opinion of a tv show or movie’s quality. Anyone can watch with ambivilance, amusement or suspense. You could fill your life with this type of interaction and never grow weary. It’s safe and easy. This 3rd person perspective is the them mentality, and in a world dominated by that perspective, meaning is hard to find, even if you are benevolent to “them.”
It takes more, however to be a fan in a game. To know the cheers, to wear the colors, to watch the game as you watch a friend. It takes more to follow a political movement with interest in details and belief in a leader. It takes alot more to care for and invest yourself in the people and things around you.This is the you mentality, and it is much more personal. Its second person perspective. What affects others affects you. It is much more difficult than 3rd person, because you don’t have the benefit of objectivity and you are more prone to receiving ridicule or criticism for showing your support for some things.
The most mental and physical effort are devoted to the parts of life that require our full investment, so much that they are a part of us. To be a part of the team on the field, to adopt a homeless dog from the shelter, to take ownership and responsibility for someone or something and act on it with enthusiasm. Here, in first person perspective, you care, you grow, you’re criticized or cheered. You give yourself to the people and things that mean the most to you.
To find meaning, we have to find connection. We have to search for the ways we are tied to others. We have to listen to those around us, and be all for them. We have to strive to find first and second person experiences wherever we can.
Of course, to risk getting closer and putting that on the line, we have to believe in these causes and people. We won’t feel the same about them all and we can’t share the same connections with each person we meet. We can however, open our minds to the possibility of deeper connections and closer perspectives wherever we are.
Each perspective has it’s own value and it’s own time and place. We need each, but we should strive to be the most we can be and to get closer to others, not necessarily to help or fix them, but just to care about them. By investing our feelings in theirs, we add meaning to our world. My goal for the future, and especially this week, is to find shared perspective with those around me and to resist the urge to turn back to the safe distance of third person perspective.