Sunday, June 26, 2011


Photo of the month:
Perspective, Key West, unk.

Quote of the month:

We must get right with ourselves. 
 Once, we do, we will have so much to do, 
we will not have time to keep track of who is wrong.
I'm okay, you're okay, let's get to work.
-Iyanla Vanzant

Today I stopped by a Pennsylvania Dutch Market. Being half Pennsylvania Dutch, I find it somewhat difficult to pass by these markets! My family tells me that there were both "plain" and "fancy" Pennsylvania Dutch and we were of the fancy variety, so we used electricity and did not use horse and buggies!

Today, there was a pig roast going on and I decided to try the pork. There was a man standing in line behind me and he ordered a container of pork. When he got to the end to pay, he said that he wanted BBQ sauce. The women working the stand offered him a container of sauce. He said that he wanted the sauce on the pork. The women said that it did not come that way and repeated their offer to provide a container of sauce separately. He started to become angry and loudly said, "Yes! It does come that way!" 
Amish women

At this point I felt a bit compelled to stay behind and defend the women if need be. The women looked a bit stunned, but it turned out that they did not need defending. One of them stepped up to explain, politely, that if he wanted to purchase a pre-made sandwich, they would put the BBQ sauce on if he wanted it that way, but if he bought bulk pork he would have to purchase the sauce separately. She went on to say that they had to buy the sauce and that it was very expensive for them so they had to charge extra for it. He eventually left without the sauce, but he was unwilling to consider that in this particular store, he might not know how they do things. It was his loss as the sauce, as well as the plain pork, was quite tasty!!!!!

Two things caught my attention. First, that the woman had stood up for herself... and did not need anyone else to defend her (I was privately very proud of her!) and secondly, that the man could not see that he had a different frame of reference... point of view... or perspective! Perspective used in the photo of the month above, makes the sun appear small enough to hold in ones hands.  It all depends on how one views things... from what angle or point of reference.  Somewhere, in some store or restaurant he was right. In this particular situation, they had a different method of preparation and a different frame of reference.

I have written about different perspectives in October of 2008 in a post titled, The Whole Elephant, which talks about the story of the blind men and the elephant. This seemed like a good opportunity to address it again.

This month, I want to suggest - - or challenge you - - to try to view things from a different point of view. I have no doubt that there will be opportunities in every day life! I am not suggesting that you change your opinion, simply consider that there may be another way to look at something. Easy examples are seen every day on the news and in politics. Closer to home, you may have a disagreement with a co-worker, boss, spouse, child or friend.

When one of these examples crosses your path -
First - close your eyes and take a deep breath. Go deep inside and silently ask - "Am I right?" You will get a sense of yes or no - right or wrong.

Next, if you feel that your position is "right," next ask yourself if you can consider that there might be another "right" position?

If so, either ask the other person to explain their perspective or research what it might be. For example, the man could have considered that the Pennsylvania Dutch may eat the pork without any sauce at all and simply provide it as a service to those that prefer it that way. Just because he had not previously seen it that way, did not make it wrong. There was the additional issue of cost as explained by the women. I don't know all the details.... but these are all things worth considering. Both positions are probably "right," given the proper context.

If you still feel that you are "right," ask yourself, "What will I accomplish by trying to prove that I am right?" Everyone likes to be "right," but consider that for you to be right you might have to make someone else "wrong." Remember, you do NOT want to feel "wrong." So, is it really in your best interest to prove your spouse, your children, or even you boss or co-workers are "wrong." Do you want them to feel "wrong?" In some situations, it may be warranted, but my suggestion this month is that often, the only thing benefiting from your being "right" is a boost to your ego.... with a corresponding dent to the ego of someone else.  Ask yourself, "Do I really want my children to feel "wrong?" or "Do I really need to be so 'right' that someone else feels "wrong" or "badly?"

Finally, even if you feel you are "right" and you feel you are justified, ask if being "right" will further your cause and really get you what you want. For example, if your overall goal is a peaceful harmonious relationship - even if you are "right" and you are ok with making someone else "wrong" .... in the end, will it really get you what you want?

I cannot answer these questions for you... but they might be questions worth considering.   As always, I would love to hear your comments or questions in the section below.

Until next month,
Keep it simple!


Mark & Laura Anderson said...

Hi Penelope,

As always, you get me thinking and this one has me thinking a lot! Thank you so much for all of your insight.



Penelope said...

Thank you Laura!

kristin said...

Perhaps the man had just lost his dog. The anger had less to do with his need of BBQ sauce on his pork and more to do with sadness of his loss. (yes, I know ... a stretch) Perhaps he was having a bad day because someone had yelled at him for something he could not change.

Perspective is man's greatest gift. It can be challenged, changed, defended. It always comes from a place of "experience".

I like your message. Consider your "perspective" before you admonish another.

I love your blogs ...

Penelope said...

Thank you Kristin -

You add a good point of view to this discussion! Actions, generally have little or nothing to do with the person they are directed at and much more to do with the person (and their experience) doing the acting!

I wrote about this in December of 2010 in a post called The Gift of compassion. Here is a link if you are interested - you might have to copy and paste.

I'll include a portion here...

Very often we do not know the "back story" of the other person. I will go so far as to say nearly ANYONE who is behaving "badly" (I'll define "badly" rather loosely here) is in some way feeling badly about themselves, feeling down or upset about something. This includes your parents, your kids and especially your significant other!!!!!!!!!!!

Your support of the blog means a lot to me!

Kent said...

"Perspective"...or being "right" or "wrong" is really an illusion. It is mental activity, and thus not very weighty, or substantitve.

It can be useful at times, but it can be dangerous to be too attached to it (as I know well in my life). In fact, it seems like such attachment (to being right or wrong) has become rampant in our world. It is such a common addiction... and its nature as an illusion has been largely forgotten.

Your tools of breathing and asking the questions are valuable tools for helping to create some separation from its trance-like quality. Thank you.

Penelope said...

Kent -

Yes! Thank you! There can only be "right" and "wrong" from a reference point... and a reference point is always an illusion... which makes "right" and "wrong" an illusion as well! Thank you for adding this to the discussion!

I appreciate your continued input on the posts!


Jess said...

Beautiful stories, as always :)