How do you get perspective? We just went on an incredible family holiday up north in Western Australia.
The landscapes rolled out around us as we drove over one thousand kilometres just to get there. We glamped. We arrived to an eco-tent, “permanently” erected, on floor boards, with beds inside all made up with fresh linen. No power. Showers and a toilet down the gravel path. No wifi or phone connection, except for a brief moment on the last day when we were driving to yet another spectacular gorge of folded geology and deep, cold pools of water.
I can not explain (yet) what the change in perspective can do for a person. Along with reading A Thousand Splendid Suns (oh Afghanistan, your stories break my heart) on my iPad in the evenings when we went to bed by 7.30pm because it’s dark and what else makes sense?
Perspective is a funny thing. It’s completely relative. To where you are. To what you believe. To how you see the world. To how you see yourself.
The whole perspective contemplation came up for me because my guy was taking a lot of photos on holidays. He has a really good camera and got it out for holidays in the remote and spectacular location. He commented that he used to be really into photography but hasn’t done it for a while, but perhaps that’s because of the “subject matter”. Which got me thinking that often we think we have be somewhere spectacular to appreciate life, when actually sometimes it’s the beauty in the minutiae of the everyday moments that we miss (this is not a criticism of him by the way, just that he got me thinking). Every Sunday we went for afternoon tea at my Nanna’s house, and she made pikelets and annoyed everyone, and my Pop sat up the end and sometimes played the piano. I recall the floral tablecloth and the yellow pikelets, deeply fried in lard, and the way their kitchen smelt, and the clinking of plates – but I do not believe we have a single photograph of it. We eat dinner at our family dining table every (well most) evenings and the kids all talk way too much, and fight over the colour cup they have and they all have to sit in an assigned seat (or there would be more disagreeing) and Miss 6 always gets up at least 6 times and does some demonstration of a story that requires dancing or large body movements, and we are always negotiating dessert and I don’t think there’s a single photo of dinner. Not posed. Just an image preserved in time of that moment.
When we got home my guy (once again, teaching me all kinds of things) declared, “We have such a beautiful home!” Which we do. And I notice it often. But he has lived there longer than me, and sometimes with all the people you don’t get time to notice, and it’s easy to miss how great life is until you glamped and went to bed most night’s with dusty feet at 7pm because it’s dark (and what else can you do, as lights bring bugs and bugs in the tent suck) and you ate rusty wok fried bacon because the rusty wok was all there was for frying. Our home is huge, and full of light and windows and wood and colours and it’s clean and mostly the bugs stay out (except that time when the cat managed to get fleas into every carpet).
And we travelled with my sister and her guy and her two little boys who are about 2 and 4, and they were constantly filthy, or swimming and therefore wet, and then needed dry clothes, and then new, dry clothes were suddenly filthy. I don’t know how many sets of clothes they went through, but they just changed them and got on with it. And once I stopped caring about dirty clothes (we have a kick-ass washing machine in our beautiful home), I was just so impressed how many times Miss 6 put on her wet and filthy socks (again) and her sneakers and climbed precariously in and out of gorges. Often singing. But then she cried because she missed home and all her soft toys, and when we got home she cried because she missed sleeping altogether in a tent.
Sometimes she needs reminding (like we all do), just to be here, in this, whatever it is. And find the joy or the beauty or the learning or the space, or just a precious moment.
I spent a lot of time staring at the rocks. Feeling the history of landscape and the ancestors of the people. I don’t do that at home. I don’t do that enough. But momentarily, that’s all there was.
Sometimes it’s time to trust that it’s time to do something new. To see something new. To disentangle yourself from the minutiae and open up to the bigger picture. You can do it in your everyday. Or in a landscape steeped with history.
Either way, don’t forget to breathe.