What's Your View?
Ray Whiting

  

The person who views the world at 50 the same as he or she did at 20 has wasted 30 years of life.     -- Muhammad Ali

When I was 20 the world was full of promise.  It would never hurt me (because I, after all, was . . . well, I was ME!).  Television advertising would always focus on me and my desires, would feature cultural icons I could understand, and the most popular songs were the ones I wanted to hear. 

Something happened along the way.  The world stopped revolving around me and my generation. 

A few years ago there was TV show popular with kids, which featured the requisite young teen idol character.  To listen to the media, all the boys wanted to BE that character, and all the girls wanted to date him. 

Trust me -- you know you are no longer the center of the universe when you turn on the TV to see what's the big deal about the teen idol. . . and you end up with a mild flutter (or heart-felt crush) for that character's TV father or mother! 

(Oh my goodness, I just saw a couple hands go up in the back row there. . . you know what I'm talking about, right?) 

Somewhere along the way, we grow up.  The world we saw at 20 doesn't exist.  It's a figment of the young imagination.  But the world WE see doesn't exist, either.  This, too, is merely the creation of our own perspective. 

One of the Divine Treats in this world is that we are not obligated to have the "right" view.  Instead, the truly delicious part about being here is that over the course of a lifetime we are privileged to have access to a multitude of perspectives and angles from which to view this world.

I went back and added "access to" in the last sentence.  Even as I typed it I realized that while we have the privilege to see this world from many different angles, not everyone does.  We have access to different views.  It is up to us take advantage of that privilege.  It is up to us to switch from the microscope to the telescope to the binoculars to the reading lenses.  It is up to us to climb the mountains, slide down the valleys, swim the channels and burrow under it all. 

And all of this takes time.  At 20 we might think we have seen and heard it all.  Certainly by 50 there's not much left to see that would expand our vision, much less our mind, is there?  Look again.  Last week I was talking with a physician, still practicing, hale and hearty, in his mid-70's, who mentioned that he had just recently examined one of this patients.  He was surprised to discover the young man had both nipples pierced AND a stud piercing through his tongue.  This doctor is still out there traveling the world, teaching, doing his thing. . . and I'm helping him learn his computer, too. 

He's not wasting time figuring what's wrong with the world (as if his vision had become distorted with age while the world he knew should have remained static).  Instead, he's keeping his vision clear and eager to see what else is yet to come (he doesn't even need glasses to drive!).  I tease him a lot, in a friendly way, but truly he's the kind of man I would aspire to be when I'm that age. 

I think this is what Muhammad Ali was getting at -- don't put blinders on when you reach 20, or 30, or even 50.  Instead, allow your vision to be seen through a wide-angle lens to capture as much as you can.  What matters most, of course, will always matter, but when seen through the wider view of maturity, the petty details we focus on in youth are truly so inconsequential.


Copyright by Ray S. Whiting.

  
    


 
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