4 de Agosto 2021


Perspective comes to mind this morning because yesterday was a particular defeat. Two plans did not come to fruition: 1.) An appointment with a medical internist; 2.) A visit from a friendly electrician.

Here in Panama lots of medical appointments are made through what I think is a third- party website. For example, I made an appointment to see a dentist using a website, but to no avail. I had a follow-up from the website, but not from the dental office. I wound up walking to the office and making an appointment. I also made an appointment on another website to see an internist and again, to no avail. I received a printable verification of the appointment, but upon arriving I found that the doctor was no where to be seen. This is all very confusing, if not maddening and I was tempted to say, “This would never in the United States!” Then, perspective, gained the upper hand over confusion and frustration.

Of course, such setbacks have happened to me no matter where I am in the world. One recent experience of trying to make a radiology appointment had me tearing out my hair…and I don’t have much! I needed a pre-authorization code from the insurance company. This is reasonable, but there seemed to be no communication (read connection) between the insurance company, the referring physician and the radiology clinic. I found myself the intermediary between these three parties. Maybe I was missing something in the loop, but my point is that confusion and frustration were visited upon me elsewhere than Panama, or France or Israel, etc.

Perspective is what I needed to calm my nerves. Perspective changes the view of any situation whether we are confronting it with our physical eyes or our emotional eyes. Perspectives has the power to create a new reality, but not a new truth. Perspective is flexible and medicinal. It can be adopted anywhere, any time to calm the frayed nerve.

‘Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth’

This is the name of an article written in 2019 by three Indian researchers at the Department of Internal Medicine of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh, Punjab, India. I have not read the article, but I did find the title of the article very interesting and pertinent.

The title reminded me of an old lesson I learned about refraction. This phenomena was used by René Descartes (17th century French mathematician and philosopher) to gain insight how we attain knowledge. He held a pencil in his hand and his eyes saw a straight piece of wood-enrobed lead. Then he placed the pencil in a glass of clear water and then the same eyes saw that the pencil was no longer straight, but split or refracted. Can we therefore trust our eyes? Does perspective create reality? Yes. Does perspective create truth? No.

Reality for me yesterday was utter defeat. I didn’t get what I wanted and I could have been my old self and sputtered and spewed. Reality would not have changed no matter how I reacted, but with a different perspective I maturely (at long last after 65 years!) created a new reality and the truth that there were to by no visits with an internist or by an electrician was accepted and reasonable. Theologians would call this the virtue of patience. Psychiatrists would call this a coping mechanism. Parents would call it a lesson in ‘growing up.’ Life coaches would call it, ‘getting a grip.’ Philosophers, photographers, mathematicians, architects would call it perspective.

I call it well-being. I used perspective many times in counseling as a priest. I spent over 30 years listening to confessions and hearing about problems we humans all face. I knew that what I was hearing were all realities, but they were not truths. Being hatefully angry with a sibling is not a truth, but an intolerant perspective that can be changed, coped with, accepted, forgiven or otherwise dismissed.

Introducing perspective to a problem-situation helps to change people’s lives. Truth then is not what we see, but that which simply is beyond our frail human experience. Truth is ineffable. Perspective is a decision that serves us for the better.

Published by Thomas

Retired from active priestly ministry in the Catholic Church; former Benedictine monk; francophile; Holocaust researcher; Delta One Million Miler; Ex-Patriated American to the Republic of Panama

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