Friday, November 03, 2006


When I was in 7th grade, I had to take a class in art. It was a completely new experience for me. This course was only half a year, and it was required (a situation that usually aggravates my usually hidden stubborn side), and on top of that, music was my passion, and I didn't really see art as a useful skill. Mr. Tatum opened my world to new ideas.

In one of our first assignments, Mr. Tatum showed us a picture of a street. "Look at the telephone poles," he said. "See how, as your eyes are drawn down the road, the poles get shorter and closer together. This is perspective."

Wow! That was something I had never noticed before. He taught me to appreciate how perspective can take a flat surface and transform it into depth and shadows and distance. It was the same piece of paper, but the artist's skill changes the picture entirely. That lesson has remained with me since.

I took the above picture today. Ed and I were visiting the new house site, so we parked the Liberty and walked around. What you see here is our new basement. I laughed when I saw the photo, because the distortion in the picture makes the car almost look like a toy standing on the hill. The perspective is askew.

My goal for this time of transition is to keep my sense of perspective. We have so many phrases to interpret this idea that it has become almost trite. "Don't sweat the small stuff." "Choose your battles." "Consider the glass half full." A step back to check perspective is the only way we will be able to handle all the frustrations and hassles that will inevitably overtake us in the next few weeks. It's not easy to move in with our adult kids. It's not easy to live out of boxes. It's not easy to walk around on tiptoe to avoiding waking the baby. It's not easy adjusting to a 45-minute commute. It's especially not easy to cultivate patience when all we want to do is get settled in our new house.

Perspective tells a different story. All this is temporary. And in this temporary waiting period, I have found the joy. What can compare to little Charlotte falling asleep in my arms? What can hold a candle to hearing Caroline spell "stone"? What could possibly surpass our warm bed and delicious meals from Rachel? The funny story from Chris about setting off the car alarm and not being able to turn it off? All these experiences and more we would have missed had we been able to move directly into our new house. A simple change in perspective transforms impatience into contentment.

It's a powerful lesson from a little 7th-grade art class.

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