In conversation today with a local businessman who is preparing to celebrate his 47th wedding anniversary, our attention turned to his advice in maintaining long-term relationships. As he smiled, even managed to blush a little, he said it was by making the right choice at the beginning. In his firmly Hoosier self-deprecating way, he went on to credit much of the success of their longevity to his bride. “What a good guy,” I thought. But as my sympathetic interrogatory continued, his detailed answers pointed to something else. Certainly, he had entered a relationship with someone who is committed to relationships. Such a move is always a good thing. But more, he carried into the relationship a strong understanding of the importance of perspective in human interaction.
Even as we peer down from our vantage point, it is easy to forget that there are countless other outlooks from which to gaze. Imagine the scores of interpersonal interactions that take place every day – at the office, at the coffee counter, with our families, even with the household pet. During the course of the many petty irritations and follies that seem to fill our daily routines, it is striking to consider that there are innumerable other lives filled each with its own peccadilloes and interests. How do people perceive us? Do they even notice that we exist? Is our imagined slight an entirely unintended consequence? Or, are the nefarious perpetrating their own agendas against us?
Can we find comfort in the knowledge that no one can fully understand our point-of-view or invite us into theirs? Or, is this solitary personal isolation frightening? Maybe it’s a matter of perspective. Regardless, learning to get out of our own heads and imagine the view from across the table can only make us better for it.