Today was supposed to be a craze-filled shopping day with my mom. Despite getting only fours of sleep the night prior, I was alert and excited. I love the mall. I love shopping and buying things—it’s my materialistic/girly side that I just can’t rid of. But as we turned into the parking lot, the mood subdued as my mom recounted a small gathering with my stepdad, his daughter, and his daughter’s husband.
“And how many kids do you have?”
The context of what raised this simple question doesn’t really matter for the purpose of this note, but it set the scene for the rest of our day. While we oohed and ahed over a ridiculously expensive jacket that was just so tempting, that simple question lingered above us. It reminded me that perspective is everything. The saying “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” is a tired cliché, but like a lot of clichés, it’s entirely true (at least in my view). Many people throw around clichés aimlessly, but they don’t take the time to truly appreciate what they mean. "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" is an example.
Whatever that doesn’t kill you only creates perspective—it sets the stage for the other events that are waiting to unfold in your future. If you accept it and if you allow it to, it can contribute to your life for the better. It can be a huge backdrop that deemphasizes everything else that might come in front of it. With something that huge, everything, of course, just seems miniscule and immaterial. They simply become tiny specks.
Whatever that doesn’t kill you opens up so many perspectives that other people just might not have access to. It’s kind of like having a secret view of the world way up high above ground that only you can get to—unless, of course, there are others who have been through the same that you have. With this view, it’s like everyone else is trapped in a straight and dark tunnel with only one view forward, while you're on a plane with an aerial view of everything else surrounding them.
Having perspective is something that takes practice, especially because a lot of the “what didn’t kill you” moments are the painful moments that you’d rather forget than remember. It's hard to be grateful for the things that brought pain. But even when you accept those moments, amidst this crazy thing called life, it’s easy to forget a lot of things, perspective being one of them. Being in law school and pretty much dedicated to casebooks and studying, I lost my mine. I almost forgot why I’m here, and how incredibly fortunate I am in the first place. After today, perspective started floating back to me. I felt disturbed that I had even lost it in the first place. I’m grateful for my hardships; although sometimes I wish certain things had never happened, I embrace them—or at least I try to. After all, what's done is done and you can't change it.
My mother is the strongest person I know and I write this note because of her. She has been through a combination of things no one should ever have to experience at the same time: loss, fear, betrayal, harassment, and one hell of a messed up court system (seriously). Not many would have put up with what she has, yet here she still is, solid, strong, and happy, albeit somewhat very unforgiving and sometimes very bitter. She complains about certain things that make absolutely no sense to me, but we both know that really, in comparison to everything else that has happened, this stuff is complete bullshit to worry about. These things might seem glaring by themselves, but with the backdrop otherwise known as perspective, they fade and disappear.
Nothing I write here is new. That saying “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” after all, is an adage that people say whenever others need support. But every now and then, I need a reminder. Having perspective, I feel, is one of the most important things to have in order to make life a lot easier. A drastic past and life story aren’t necessarily requisites for being able to keep things in perspective, but if you do have them and let them, they will work in your favor.
-Written December 20, 2010