One of the lessons I have learned in life, is that what you see depends on where you stand- both literally and figuratively.
Let's start with literally. Everyone has their "dream concert." For 15 years my dream concert, if I could see ANYONE live in person, was Garth Brooks. As luck would have it, his recent One Man, Once City convert occurred in Kansas City, a mere 3 hours from where I live. So, thank you Ebay, because 13 bids and 2 tickets later I had seats to see the Artist of the Century.My "view" of the concert, if you will, was fabulous. My best friend and I were nestled right smack in the front row (ok, the front row of the 2nd section), for our dream concert. Being so close to the stage, we got to see every emotion that Garth had and it made the experience awesome. I imagine someone sitting in the nosebleed section (poor schmucks) had a different perspective than we did. They saw some tiny figure, resembling an ant, flitting around stage like a firefly.
I am certain that Garth had an entirely different perspective. Whereas we many things about him, his motives behind each song, even stalk his every move (or is it just me that does that?), I imagine he just sees just a sea of bodies- a mass of nameless, faceless fans huddled like Alaskan Salmon- squirming and fighting our way just to get an inch closer. Another day "at the office." We sat in the same city, in the same auditorium, on the same night, and yet what we saw and experienced were two totally different things. A difference of perspective.
Perhaps more important, is how our perspective changes figuratively. As my friend and I sat waiting for Garth to appear on stage, we reminisced about days past. We talked about what we were like as freshmen in college, and how now, 10 years later, after our lives have taken us down our respective paths, our outlooks and beliefs have completely shifted. We laughed about all of the things we believed and plans we made. Things we once thought, now seem ridiculous. Judgments we once made, now seem shortsighted. That change in perspective is to me, one of the very most important aspects of college.
Degree- yes, that's a big one. Friends, fun, Intro to Medieval Thinkers, yep, those are all important too. But perspective shapes the course of how you make all of your decisions. There have been many times where I have disagreed with a coworker, family member, friend, or stranger for that matter, and come to find out later that perhaps my perspective on the situation was skewed and if I had tried to see things from their side maybe I would have drawn a different conclusion. Tim Johnson, one of my very forward thinking and amusing professors, actually incorporated many stories into his curriculum with the aim of teaching us about this very concept- the idea that each person has a story and we shouldn't assume we know their thoughts, motives or interpretations because it is certainly different than our own. I remember filling out my end of the course evaluation and saying thank you- thank you for teaching me about perspective, or maybe it is empathy? Either way, I know I learned something important.
There is a saying that you can't know why someone has done something unless you've walked in their shoes... truly know their perspective. Good advice I think!