Updated: May 21, 2019
Just this week while racing around the grocery shop with my daughter (Miss 8) an elderly lady inching along the aisle with her her walker stopped us to ask if it was school holidays as she had seen many children about. Then she commented on how beautiful Miss 8’s hair was: “Such a lovely thick braid,” and other compliments. As we walked away Miss 8 quizzed me:
“Mum- Why are old ladies always so nice and friendly?” to which I replied:
“Because they’re wise. They’ve lived a long time and know that you don’t get anywhere good by being mean to people. They have leant that lesson in all their years of living, so they have a different perspective to the rest of us. The old-lady perspective.”
“Mum- what does perspective mean?”
And so the conversation continued. But this little exchange got me thinking about perspective.
Perspective is defined philosophically as ‘a point of view’ or a standpoint from which to view something. We all have it. In fact, we all have many perspectives. So unique are our perspectives that they are almost like fingerprints. Each of us have layer upon layer upon layer of other people’s opinions told to us, theoretical teachings learnt in institutions and probably the most powerful: personal experience. These things combine to create a truly unique perspective in each one of us from which to view, experience and interact with the world.
I wonder what age it is that all those layers combine to give you the general ‘old lady’ perspective of the world? When do you have enough opinions about selfishness not providing satisfaction, enough learning that good will triumph over evil and enough experience with kindness being more effective than cruelty to get you to that very special point of view? When do you get the perspective that talking to a complete stranger and complimenting a child with only a pair of smiles in return is enough for your investment of energy? With so much distraction and hatred in the world right now, we need to know what unique level of layering is required to shift your perspective such that you are nice to strangers just because you can be.
Maybe we need to have the formula for ‘old lady perspective’ taught in schools. Maybe we need to bottle the ‘old lady perspective’ and administer it to drivers on the road, political leaders and people selling messages of hate. Maybe we need to stop dismissing elderly women as irrelevant and start seeing that their perspective is something so unique in these times that it should be respected and admired.
Compared to the old ladies, how does your perspective of the world stack up?