WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Shifting Perspective

By Kat Liu

“A lot of times we base everything just on our immediate circumstance. We don't see a big picture for our lives. We don't love ourselves. We don't have a way of kind of gauging the future, so we count it lost.” 
—Jennifer Holiday

Nowadays my attitude towards driving is arguably a little too cavalier, but there was a time when the responsibility of steering a 3,000-pound metal cage gave me sweaty palms and heart palpitations.

Inside a car, a young adult sits behind the driver's seat. In the passenger seat is someone implied to be a driving instructor due to the clipboard he's holding.

The first time I drove on a freeway was only at the insistence of my driving instructor, who thought that I was ready. I disagreed. Crawling along the I-80 at about forty miles per hour, annoying everyone behind us, I was able to stay in my lane only with extreme concentration and constant correction. Sensing that I was drifting too far to the right, I turned the wheel leftward and the car would drift too far to the left, forcing me to turn the wheel to the right, causing the car to drift rightwards again, and so on. It probably only lasted a minute or two at most, but felt like an eternity.

Then my instructor said, “Look up.”

“What?” I countered. Couldn’t he see that I was too busy looking at the lines so that I could keep the car within them and us alive?

“Look further into the distance. Right now, you’re focusing only on what's twenty feet in front of you and over-correcting. Look up and further out. Trust me.”

Gradually, I raised my gaze upwards, taking in the whole scene: where the road ahead was straight, where it curved, and how much. Almost magically our car’s movement smoothed out. I was driving on the freeway, staying in my lane almost effortlessly, needing to make only small adjustments.

Broaden your focus. Oftentimes I find myself focusing on the things immediately in front of me, and as a result they may seem larger and more important than they actually are. When I remember to orient myself within the bigger picture, it recalibrates my perspective. I can better judge how important a problem is—or isn’t. And even if it is a big problem, I can better understand how to respond to it, and also remember the reasons I still have to be happy.

Prayer

May we always keep in mind the bigger picture. May we always remember who we are, from where we’ve come, and where we want to go as we respond to life’s challenges. May it be so. Amen.

About the Author

Kat Liu

Kat Liu (she/her/ta) is a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco as well as a practitioner in the Plum Village Buddhist tradition. At this stage in her life, the main things occupying her time are working for a Buddhist anti-racism organization, caring for her father,...

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