I'm wondering a few things about perspective these days. I understand what it means and I see its value, but to put one's perspective into action? That's a whole different story.
There are people that have it a whole lot worse than I do. I see some of these people at Kennedy Krieger twice a week, and it's gut wrenching; small children with developmental and physical disabilities, a sixteen year old girl who was shot and is now a paraplegic living in a totally inaccessible house in West Baltimore, a great number of my students who have survived a level of loss that I cannot even comprehend, etc. But to be honest, knowledge of all this makes me feel, a) guilty for not fully appreciating what I have (which I acknowledge is a lot), and b) pity, because I assume if I have as much as I do and I'm still this sad, someone else with less support or worse health must be even more sad. Still, though, when it's a beautiful spring day and I'm out and about on my ridiculous scooter, with my even more ridiculous dog, I feel like every single person who runs by me is karate chopping me in the heart. In those instances I have never once stopped and said to myself, self, you could be much worse off: you could have gangrene and be homeless and have the hantavirus. I just remember running, and I remember loving it.
Probably thirteen years ago, I distinctly remember sitting in my dorm room at Colgate, listening to my caustically angelic roommate, Megs, complain about her one pimple that you'd need a microscope to see. I was a few days out of a five-day course of IV steroids, and looked like a before picture for proactive acne solutions. Without thinking, I spoke more sharply than I intended to, "Megs, have you seen my face right now? Jesus." My friend Meli interceded on her behalf, "Kate, imagine for one second that your entire family died. Awful, right? Now imagine, a few years later, Megs' mom dies. Would you tell her to stop crying because your entire family was dead? No, you wouldn't, because it's still a tragedy." Defensively I snapped, "We're talking about zits, Meli, not dead family members." Of course, though, I got what she meant: you can't prorate misery. Point noted.
I've tried to apply that rationale to my life from that point forth. I'm not going to lie, though, when people talk about "hating" their bodies' perceived imperfections, I have to fight the urge to say, stop bitching, you're healthy. But I don't. Because if a friend is upset, a friend is upset, and as a friend -- and I hope to be a good friend -- it is not my job to judge nor to undermine someone's sadness or frustration.
I've come to the conclusion, thus, that perspective in action isn't really feasible; at least not for me. Maybe it's not wholly feasible for any of us, because life isn't easy, and when you're in the throes of it -- whatever it is -- it's almost impossible to not want something you can't have. Unless you're Buddha. (Which I'm not.)
So when it's spring and all I want to do is take a run, I guess it's okay that I still cry.