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  • Writer's pictureSusie Csorsz Brown

20/20 and then some

“The moon doesn’t consider one phase better than another; she just glows, equally stunning at each turn. Why should we be any different?” ~Cristen Rodgers

A couple of things to preface: Even though we’ve lived overseas for years and years (and years…), sometimes I still have those a-ha moments, where it becomes crystal clear to me that I still see things in a purely American point of view. And second, an in-your-face example of something another person has been mentioning (read: complaining about) is still a slap in the face. This thing is merely an after-thought until it becomes your thing as well.

It’s all about perspective, right? What you see, what you experience, it is YOUR piece of the story. You see the episode clearly; another person would not necessarily see things the same as you might, purely due to what they have (or have not) experienced. So for you, it’s clear; for them, it’s foggy. Perspective colors what we see, what we do, how we react.

A couple recent examples of perspective:

Other than our time in Tanzania (which is, as most of you know, not that far south of the equator), I have lived most of my life in the Northern hemisphere. I grew up knowing the general weather patterns, seasons, length of daylight hours, and celestial bodies found in the north. Apparently, I did not pay sufficient attention in my college astronomy class, or whenever I should have learned this factoid, but even the moon is different in the southern hemisphere. I mean, sure sure, I knew the seasons were reversed (and therefore the school year), and then there is the whole water swirling pattern in the toilet bowl, but I had a bit of an eye-opener while in South Africa for an extended trip: the moon’s phases are viewed opposite in the Southern hemisphere as compared to the Northern hemisphere. What in the North passes from D-O-C (with the round part of the letter signifying the round part of the moon), in the South it is C-O-D. Wow, right? Interestingly enough, around the equator, the moon is also different, with the phases passing from top to bottom rather than side to side (so n-O-u). I literally had no idea, because for the most of my life I could only see the northern hemisphere point of view.

What is my point with all of this? Your point of reference is different from mine. What I hold to be true is my own, just as you have your own. Mine is not better nor more correct, nor more socially acceptable. It is simply mine; it is better for me to know that yours exists, and to acknowledge it. I do not have to accept it, agree with it nor think it is flawed. The moon is as it is, and we see it as our own; no one gets tired of the moon.

Even the moon understands different perspectives better than some humans. Hmm.

My eldest declared a few weekends ago that he wanted to make breakfast for us. And not just any breakfast, but omelets. Omelets, as you may or may not know, are not for the faint of heart. Have you ever made an omelet? They are not nearly as simple as they appear: eggs stick to the pan, filling ingredients remain raw, eggs are over-cooked and rubbery, the fold-over turns into a ‘splat’ on the plate … any number of issues can arise. Still, eldest is has never been one to shirk a task, even if he had no idea what the task actually entails. Swapping roles, I am his sous chef, assisting with chopping his fillings ingredients, and his littlest brother helped with cracking the eggs, and his other brother set the table… a full family affair. This, I think, is going to be a fabulous Sunday morning breakfast.

My eldest graciously asked each brother and his dad what they would like in their omelet. So not just omelets, but customized omelets. Let the joy begin! First, eldest does a darn good impression of knowing what he is doing, and turns out four extremely satisfactory omelets. (Even better, the kitchen wasn’t in shambles afterwards, which always makes me happy). We get everything to the table and … the trouble begins. I should mention: my eldest is always the child that has something good to say about any food item. Not in a trite, condescending way, either. He can genuinely find a quality that he likes, praise the attempt, and thoroughly enjoy whatever food; this is a quality that will serve him quite well in the future, methinks. It also helps me have at least one positive comment on any food I create in the kitchen. So that being said, he wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of moderately- to extremely-whiny commentary he was about to receive. The very same commentary I have probably mentioned here before; no food attempt goes without some sort of negative feedback. Or, probably worse, someone sitting there pushing the food around on their plate, not eating …. My boys are by no means picky, but this is a very common put-out-do-I-really-have-to-eat-this reaction that drives me bananas! (Another aside, why is it expressions don’t translate well? There is a Hungarian expression ‘pulling one’s nose’ that I always think of when a child is being overly-selective, but I can’t really come up with a good translation. Just wondering, and quasi-non-related.)

So, rightly, eldest is a little put-out. He can’t understand why I wasn’t more put-out for him; I told him that, indeed, it wasn’t nice of his brothers, and I certainly appreciated his kitchen finesse, but his brothers? They didn’t see things from his perspective. They saw it from theirs (forced to eat an omelet when they would rather eat a bowl of corn flakes. Telling you, it breaks my heart.) His effort was not appreciated; his time and creativity not applauded nor lauded … he did something not altogether simple and it was not given proper recognition. Well. Sure, I could have pandered to his newfound irritation with his brothers, but instead, I figured it was a prime time to help him understand that effort is what is important. He made breakfast. He did a great job. He was creative, and thorough (and blessedly cleanly). Was he proud of himself? Yes, of course. Did he learn anything about the process? Yes, he did. And, he asked, could he make breakfast again next Sunday? Why, yes. Yes, you can, my dear boy.

So. It’s not about what other people think or say. It’s about what we think, and learned, and want to try next. It’s all about perspective, right? Eldest didn’t really hear my comments about lack of positive reactions or even input about what people what to eat for Meal x until it was his turn to be the one fielding the negative commentary. Then, suddenly, he understood and could empathize with my situation.

So example three for perspectives. I had a conversation a bit ago with an 8 year-old, trying to get her to see that her way isn’t necessarily the right way. Her way may feel right to her, just like mine does to me. I am mature enough to know that there are a lot of nuances in ‘reality’ from different points of view. Life is like that: no one way is right. We were talking about my kitty, Odin. He is a beautiful cat, full of stripes and swirls. I really have no idea how he came to be such a beauty, as his dad was an orange tomcat and his mom was black and white but ... I digress.

Look at his face: do you see any particular letter over his eyes? I see one letter, and she saw another. She refused to believe that anyone could see anything other than her letter. Sensing a teachable moment, I dropped what I was doing and grabbed a piece of paper and I drew the two letters, M and W. I should her how both might be seen on his stripey little forehead. She drew them with her finger in his fur, and started to nod. "I see it," she said. "I still think you are wrong, but I see it." Well, baby steps.

No matter what our differences are, we all still look at the same moon. No matter our differences, we still, at the end of the day, want to connect to others, and the best way to do that is to see things from another point of view.

“What was most significant about the lunar voyage was not that men set foot on the Moon, but that they set eye on the Earth”. ~ Norman Cousins, a perfect example of how perspective makes such a difference

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