Saturday, February 02, 2008

Changing Perspective

This past week, I have been thinking a lot about the implications of the title of this post. It began during our vacation at Disney World last week. Though we did have a great time, it will not go down in history as our best Disney trip ever. The entire time we were there, we had to deal with these Brazilian, high school tour groups running around like they owned the place (we think they were Brazilian, and they were about the right age and behavior for high school kids...). Then, (I don't know if anyone other than me notices the space on the right where I state what I am currently reading, but...), this train of thought picked up a few more cars as I was re-reading The Gunslinger, book 1 of Stephen King's Dark Tower series.* It picked up a caboose when I read my sister's column (shameless plug) about her thoughts on Eli Manning.

It got me thinking about how I was at the age these kids were, and though I don't always feel I am a vastly different person than I was then, there are times when I can't believe how different I have become. Given how much I have changed, and I'm sure others have undergone similar transformations, it's amazing that I continue to hold friendships with people that I was friends with then, and continue to have good relationships with family members that I felt I had good relationships with then.

As perhaps is typical of many young people, I used to see things very black & white. When I began driving (23 years ago!!), I felt that the speed limit was the law. If the sign said 35, and you were going 36, you were breaking the law, and may as well have been going 70 (you can't be a little bit pregnant). Well, anyone whose been in a car with me in the past ten years or so knows I see a little more gray area now. There are a lot of gray areas I see now. I remember seeing The Color of Money back in '86 when it first came out. Not a bad movie, if you enjoy watching 9-ball and don't expect much. (Definitely a make-up Oscar for Paul Newman. Much as I like him, it wasn't an Oscar-worthy performance). Anyway, I remember a couple of years ago talking with Rob about it. He had recently seen it again, and so had I. We both had the same experience of identifying more with Newman's character now, when we had identified more with the Cruise character when we were younger. Our perspective had shifted.

While I am enjoying the Dark Tower books every bit as much as I did when I began reading them ten years ago (thanks to Ian Raymond, who I worked with at Harbour Spirits - Thanks, Ian!), I was in a very different place in my life than I am now. I had just lost a job of ten years, a girlfriend of five years, and any hope of financial stability, all in the span of about five months. Since then, I became gainfully employed on two separate occasions, gotten back on my feet financially (though I hope to be doing better in the coming years), and I have experienced ten more years of life, including almost - and then in a very real way - losing my father, getting married, my grandmother passing away, dealing with various health issues, and gaining, then losing, another second father in my future wife's father (if you follow). Needless to say, my frame of mind from then to now is a bit different. Therefore, while my enjoyment of the books is just as great, if not greater, my experience while reading them is much different. That almost makes it like reading them again for the first time. When I was watching extras on one of the LOTR DVDs, I found out Christopher Lee (Saruman) has re-read the trilogy every year, possibly since they were published. He's that big a fan. As I read what I typed about the Dark Tower, I wonder if he has experienced the same thing. As much as I love some books, I thought it was a bit excessive to read the same three books every single year. It may be. But possibly not as excessive as I once thought. My perspective on that has changed.

So... where does this lead us? What conclusions have I drawn as I have pondered the topic over the past week and a half? None. Save, perhaps, one more changed perspective from my youth. There aren't always solutions. There doesn't have to be a conclusion drawn. Maybe the examination in itself (of one's own self) is the whole point. To look inward. Analyze. Fix? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe just see things from a different perspective.

"Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." -- Obi-Wan Kenobi, Return of the Jedi

Yes, I just quoted a Star Wars movie. Some things never change...

*"Wait," you say (if indeed you do pay attention to what I'm reading), "I never saw that. It looked like you started with book 2, The Drawing of the Three." Well, half right. While I did start with The Gunslinger, I whipped through it so quickly (and at Disney, no less), that I never had time to indicate on my blog that I was reading it.

1 comment:

JacquelineC said...

One shameless plug deserves another. Here's a post I wrote on a birthday awhile ago...funny how they pile up.
Thought you might enjoy.
This year's bday post wasn't too bad either.

Just remember, no matter how old you get two things are true:
1) I'm still older than you.
2) It beats the alternative.

And, you are correct, none of us were ever that obnoxious our entitled when we were kids.