A good friend of mine flew into Charlotte this weekend. Naturally, I drove down to meet her having not seen her since we last parted ways in July. Since she’s been buried in 110 inches of snow all winter up in Boston, seeing her bright shining face lit up my week.
Kristen has never been to North Carolina and during the course of our catching up and conversation I learned she also has never seen a gator, looked shockingly appalled at the idea of ordering a Fried Green Tomato sandwich, and absolutely thinks it’s ‘wicked’ we say ‘y’all’ so naturally. Despite our obvious differences, when she mentioned the greenness of the city I was taken aback. Our city is green?
We weren’t talking about the movement to recycle and reduce your carbon footprint either; the green comment was literal—foliage, parks, grass—Kristen couldn’t believe how much of it was in the middle of the city. Which got me thinking about how diverse our country really is, not only in people, dialect or even places, but in perspective. I don’t really think about how green Charlotte or really any southern city is (but they are, think about it). To me it’s just a natural part of how a city is designed. NOT having foliage is weird. Because I see it all the time, when I am in Charlotte I see the narrow streets not built to sustain modern vehicular traffic. I see tall building and construction. I see people jogging and pushing strollers and not holding children’s hands as tightly as they should. In all reality what I see comes from not living in the city at all. I have always lived in small towns where green is natural, but these other things are not the norm and they pop when I am in new places.
Neither perspective of the city is better than the other. What struck me is that I could stop and sit for a moment in someone else’s shoes and really see from their perspective and as a result as I drove back through the city, all I saw were the trees, the landscaping and really the beauty in the construction. It came to life in a completely new and unique way.
Which is exactly what I think is so valuable about perspective shifts in reading and writing. A few months ago I wrote a short story and when I was finished I was unsatisfied because it felt empty and void of meaning. I tried editing it, altering the pacing, adding and subtracting detail, but it kept reading flatly. So I changed the perspective, just a simple point of view change and suddenly I started pulling at details and digging into emotion and depth I didn’t even know the story had. I resuscitated a story I thought was dead.
That’s exactly how I want to live my life. We are all born into this world with our own unique voice, but the only way we can make our voice relevant is to constantly shift our perspective and focus. By relating to people around us, we become a part of worlds we never thought we could be a part of and we can stamp out the rampart narcissism choking our society, and what a world that would be!