“Problems are just puzzles with the drama turned way up,” I once heard Elizabeth Gilbert say.
Which got me thinking: Maybe the surest antidote to so much of the crippling stress and anxiety we face might actually have something to do with perspective. Or rather, our ability to hone it. To identify a reliable aspect ratio. To cultivate a sense of proportionality as we go about the process of designing our lives.
There is no more seductive pastime than worrying. There is no greater challenge than keeping our eyes fixed on the road in front of us, even as our minds compulsively wander ahead to the fiery crash that may or may not ever be our fate. Fear can be alluring and we can be indulgent— so worry, then, often emerges as our ill-conceived compromise. Our penance for wading too deep into that which we know doesn’t serve us. Our very own nail-biting, heart-pounding, angst-ridden cross to bear.
As a species we’re hardwired for motion— especially in those moments when we feel most threatened and afraid. Standing still is simply not an option. Fight or flight, we’re programmed for survival. But the thing is: Worry is deceiving. It convinces us we’re moving when we’re not. It’s a lot like a rocking chair, the saying goes. It gives us something to do, but it doesn’t actually get us anywhere.
Perspective, on the other hand, corrects our proportion distortion. In our greatest moments of uncertainty, perspective reminds us that our feelings are nothing new. That we have lived through these same dark fears before. And that each time we have, we not only survived, but our needs were ultimately met.
As it turns out, not all motion is created equal. The strange thing about moving forward is that sometimes it requires us to look backwards. And our greatest gift (which also happens to be our greatest challenge) is the freedom we have to choose, moment by moment, whether we will be the calm in the center of the storm or the storm, itself.