Have you ever visited a place where you wander through streets and alleyways that block your view from your surrounds? Perhaps you're in the middle of Hong Kong and only see skyscrapers rather than the water or the dramatic hills surrounding the City—or maybe you have been hidden in the trees of Mount Rainier National Park and unable to see the majestic mountain towering above you.
Rather than remembering the scope of your surrounds, we often focus on finding one little shop on an unnamed side street and forget that through the urban jungle or fir forest lies a magnificent mountain. Enjoying the details of a place has a great amount of value. We learn about communities and culture. We seek out nooks and crannies and get to observe what a place is made of.
But sometimes, we need to get up above the streets and through the trees to gain perspective on where we are—both literally, in geographical place and figuratively, in a mental space. Without a view that accounts for the scope of a place, we easily lose track of where we are headed, forget that our small place in life contributes to a much larger community, and at the same time, allows us to humbly accept how small we are in the context of our vast world.
A couple years ago, I found a beautiful little space to rent above Honolulu. During this time I worked long, fairly stressful hours downtown. Even when work seemed overwhelming, my place above the City was a retreat that often taught me to remember how little one frustrating project has to do with the daily life of those around me. My relentless hours did not displace Diamond Head Crater, manipulate the tide rolling in on Oahu's south shore, or prevent any of Honolulu's second-worst-traffic-in-the-US. In fact, my projects and the hours I worked affected few others beside myself. While doing the best job that I could, the added perspective gave me the ability to remember that life is about more than work and that taking a break to watch the airplanes take off or the waves to roll in is as important as "stopping to smell the roses."
This month, I am visiting this same place. I can see developing properties and new high rise buildings popping up while cranes carefully lifting materials to the structure. Reflecting on the new buildings and changing skyline, I can see that change happens slowly—built on a lot of ground work. When complete, it can change the skyline dramatically, but more often becomes a discreet addition to the vast cityscape.
Now, in the midst of a long career search, I still find peace in perspective by leaving the situation I am in and rising above the circumstances to see how small this portion of my life is to the context of those around me—and how much better of a person I will be by spending this time developing my skills through networking and laying ground work through education, accepting unique opportunities, and building my small business.
Likewise, if you are feeling backed into a corner, shortsighted, or simply missing a great view, take some time to rise above your place in life to see the horizon, reflect on where you have come from, and take sight of your goal. Then dive back into the thick of things and keep working out the details.
Unless noted, all images and content © 2014 - 2018 The Earth Ink | Andrea Rip
*originally posted on theearthink.blogspot.com on 22 September 2014
version posted at https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrearip/ on 23 September 2014