Imagine, for a moment, you’re looking at a picture of two houses. Both are built from the same materials. They have identical layouts. Equal square footage. Their shutters are painted the same shade of blue. By all accounts, these houses are carbon copies of each other. And yet? One house looks twice as big as the other.

How can this be?

You have witnessed this anomaly so frequently in your daily life that by now, your eyes have adjusted to the inconsistency. Over the years you’ve come to identify this perceived size difference, not as an actual issue of size at all, but as an issue of perspective. The closer you are to the house, the larger it will appear. 

Believe it or not, the same is true for the images you hold in your mind.

Are you struggling to stay afloat right now? Mired down in details, anxiety, and to-do lists a mile long, wondering when you’ll ever catch a break, or even just a breath? Do these moments, with all their hard edges, false starts, and fears of the unknown feel big? Magnified? Blown so far out of their original proportions you can’t help but dissect every inconsequential detail as if it, alone, might cause your very undoing?

In other words, are you too close?

Today, friends, let’s take a step back. Let’s breathe deeply and reflect on our tiny houses— the “simpler times” we long for. The easy, effortless, joy-filled yesterdays by which we compare all our present challenges and current struggles. Is it possible these perfect moments we’ve been missing are really nothing more than whitewashed facades of the frightening places we used to know?

The truth is, yesterday’s struggle is the tiny house. Today’s struggle is the giant house. And the eternal struggle of the human condition is learning to balance the messy, unresolved, imperfection of right now with our rose-colored, revisionist perceptions of the past.

Life is and always has been an emotional trade off. Which means it’s up to us to cultivate a sense of perspective we can trust. To pursue it fiercely. To fight the urge to bemoan today’s challenges while playing yesterday’s highlight reel on a mental loop. To keep working and practicing and recalibrating, even if we fail. Especially if we fail.

Because the funny (or not so funny) thing about perspective is this: If you don’t use it, you lose it.