We are forever confined to our own minds and bodies. Unsurprisingly, then, it's easy to become so consumed by your own experience that you lose sight of what others may be experiencing, or how to ground your own experiences in context. This is where perspective has the power to illuminate.
Perspective not only serves to provide a wider lens through which to view the world, and therefore, to more consciously exist in it, but also, to help abstain from amplifying the agonies of molehills to mountainous degrees. The tricky thing about perspective is that it tends to be at its most elusive and undesirable when it is most needed. It is often when we'd most benefit from a full survey of our surroundings that we become entrenched in tunnel vision.
About eight months ago, I injured myself while playing basketball -- a love of my life since I was 8 years old. An MRI ultimately confirmed it was a torn ACL, and the visceral heartbreak I felt in that moment was immense. How many basketball players that I'd idolized growing up had I seen suffer the injury? For some, it marked the end of their basketball career. Of course, this was years ago, and nowadays a torn ACL is more or less a rite of passage for athletes, and treatment is fairly routine.
Nonetheless -- in that moment I felt crushed. Basketball has always been an outlet for me, but it is also an essential source of vitality, happiness, and confidence. It's a domain in which I experience no second thoughts or doubts, just a simple instinctual inclination. In the moment I heard the diagnosis, it seemed as if all that was crumbling away.
Quickly, though, that moment revealed itself as an emotional fork in the road: I had the opportunity to set the tone of my recovery. I could be bummed out and unmotivated, or I could get optimistic, and take on rehab with the same tenacity I like to bring to the court. This is where perspective became utterly indispensable. This is where perspective dictated everything that has transpired in the past eight months.
I took a few more moments to let my initial reaction run its course -- and then, I reminded myself of an important fact. The source of my sadness was that this injury was keeping me from something I loved, and so the takeaway there was that I had the privilege of doing something I loved, and this was an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to it.
It dawned on me that if I intended to return to basketball, I would have to take on this process with positive dedication -- and dedicated positivity. I either had to accept the challenge, or accept defeat -- and as someone who is very competitive, the decision was easy.
This thought process was borne of a deliberate effort to harness perspective. There are times when perspective may seem like an imposition, when we wish to be self-righteous in our despair. Sometimes we need those moments, but eventually, if unchecked, they only serve to deflate and dishearten - and to create a disparity between our circumstances and how we perceive them.
I've learned that when you resolve to maintain perspective, it can keep you grounded in resilience, in realistic optimism, in a problem-solving mentality, and in perseverance. Perspective pulls you from the quicksand of pity and asks that you view your complete surroundings; it redefines scars as emblems of the best, most tenacious qualities within you. Perspective makes you realize that you cannot only be grateful when it's convenient.
In short, perspective is illuminating, and often in moments where it might be more comfortable to dwell in darkness. But it will also continue to shine clarity when that same darkness, once comforting in the blindness it induced, threatens to consume us entirely. It makes us more resourceful, because we take the energy we might have spent sinking and apply it toward figuring out what we can use to climb. Perspective is a friend -- the one that will give you the truth even when it's not what you'd like to hear because ultimately, you'll be better off for it.
So when that sentient split in the path presented itself, perspective nudged me in the right direction, and it has been a source of significant motivation ever since.
When I'm on the treadmill fatigued and not in the mood to be there, I remember when I was limited to the stationary bike and how I yearned to run and sweat. When I was frustrated I couldn't run, I remembered when I couldn't bend my knee. When I was bored by hours of monotonous exercises, I remembered when I was bedridden. When I was tired of wearing the mobile brace, I remembered the stiff, straight brace. When my fingers went numb during the freezing, painstakingly slow commutes to work on crutches, I remembered the excruciating agony post-surgery when the meds wore off and I felt the pain would eat me alive. When I writhed in bed that night, sweaty and desperate to escape my own skin, I remembered that only days before, surgery had still loomed on the horizon, and now, it was behind me. When the urgent pangs from missing basketball jolt through me, I remember another type of jolt: the one I felt in my knee the day I was injured. And when it feels like it's been an eternity since I've played and I wonder if my reunion will ever arrive, I remember that eight months have already passed and brought with them great progress.
In short, perspective is powerful. Summoning it is a choice, sometimes an unpleasant one, sometimes unwelcome, but eventually, it paves the way for progress and positivity, and beyond that, it lays the foundation for leading a life that is guided by awareness both of the context of you in your life, and your life amidst the lives of those around you. Perspective can be the key to maintaining autonomy of your thoughts, and that is where many seeds of meaningful growth find the will to blossom.