Here’s the thing about perspective: it’s yours. From wherever you stand, literally or figuratively, what you see is exactly, entirely and only what you see. You might experience something in a way similar to another person, but only you are seeing whatever it is you are looking at in the way that you are seeing it. And I’m just talking facts here really, start to layer on your emotional experience, your psychological background, your biases and wow do you ever come up with distinctive truths about what is happening in any given moment.
I was thinking about perspective when I was watching the Warriors march through the NBA finals on their way to victory for Oakland, and I was thinking about it from a number of different angles. I thought it was interesting how San Francisco really wanted to “own” the Warriors brand, there’s a little rivalry there between SF and Oakland, the latter perhaps being a bit tired of being jammed into the ugly step-sister role. The SF perspective is that the Warriors are a SF team because isn’t that how it should be if anyone is winning and they are housed in the greater Bay Area? I say this with sarcasm because I live in Oakland and by God it was Oakland’s turn to have a little something to celebrate, so why not come over to the sunny side of the bay for the parade and check out the perspective from over here! I heard lots of people saying, “wow, Oakland is great, I had no idea.” So learning something new is one of those awesome things that can happen when you adjust your physical perspective to get a different view.
I was also thinking about perspective in a truly observational way. It felt to me, as someone wanting the Warriors to win, that the referees were particularly hard on them. I also feel that way when I watch the 49ers play and as I was about to say something about “gosh why do all the refs in professional sports hate the teams I like,” when I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe, that was how it felt to me but it wasn’t necessarily true. When you are watching something, when you are wanting something you become hyper aware of those things that seem like injustice or obstacles to getting it.
Yes, yes I know, there are times when there are bad calls in sports, game changing calls that are really terrible (like Bowman’s interception against Seattle that destroyed his knee), and there really are behaviors that happen that are embarrassing or unjust or unfair in everyday life. But I’m thinking that maybe those things actually happen to everyone, not just to me, not just to my favorite teams, not just with the things that I want. It feels like that because it is happening to me, not because it is all about me.
So I was thinking, as I watched Lebron do his thing where he stampedes into the middle of the crowd, shoulders lowered, arms swinging that wasn’t it interesting how he never got called for charging, but our guys got called for creating a puff of air that interfered with the opponent. It just wasn’t fair. Except maybe there was someone sitting in their family room in Cleveland watching Iguodala par-kor off the defense to get in to the hoop who was feeling just like me. Maybe it just felt unjust because I was watching so closely for what I wanted.
When my kids were little and were involved in sports or theatre or anything that required me watching them I always felt like they were the only ones on the field just standing there, or picking their nose, or pulling at their undies, or whatever other thing they were doing that I didn’t want them to do but was happening. And then I realized that they were the only ones doing the whatever because they were the only ones I was watching – they were the only ones I cared about deeply – my perspective of the experience was skewed because it was limited.
I don’t think there is much to I can do to fix the problem, not for myself and certainly not for anyone else. But I can know about, maybe that will help. I can change my language to be a little more broad and a little less fatalistic. Probably the NFL refs don’t hate the 49ers, I know now that all five year olds are nose-pickers, and I can remember that my view is only my view – I have to move around if I want to change the angle.