Until the cows come home

cows-curious-cattle-agricultureI love Father Ted.

One of my favourite episodes is called “Hell”, in series 2.

One scene opens in a caravan, with Ted showing young Father Dougal a plastic toy cow. Dougal has a puzzled expression.

“OK, one last time.” says Ted.

“These [Ted holds up plastic cow] are SMALL. But the ones out there [points out the window into the countryside] are FAR AWAY……..… small………..far away…”

Dougal continues to look confused

Ah, forget it!” says an exasperated Ted.

A simple lesson in perspective, even if Dougal still didn’t get it.

If you are faced with a problem or issue in your life, it is important to determine its potential impact on you, and the strenth of your response, by being mindful of perspective. Not the physical version used by artists in their paintings, but your own “particular way of thinking about something, especially one that is influenced by your beliefs or experiences.” (Collins Dictionary)

Your reaction should be based on that perspective.

We are all abhorred by some of the major traumatic events in the world: war, famine, natural disasters. In reality, fortunately, the vast majority of us are not directly touched by these. It does not diminish the immense harm they inflict on people, but they are “far away” from our control. Our response is often to make a donation to a supportive campaign or charity, and this is absolutely a reasonable action. I mean, what more can you realistically do?

It is worth remembering that our perspectives can change depending on how close they become.

I was reasonably familiar about the work the Stroke Association, Chest Heart & Stroke and other similar organisations were involved in, but they were “far away”. None of my family were directly affected. I’m sure I dropped a few pound coins into collection tins, or bought raffle tickets in support of them before I had a mini-stroke myself.

Since my TIA, the issue is in much more close proximity. My perspective changed. I am far more knowledgeable about strokes: causes, treatment and recovery. I’ll openly talk about what my recovery journey is like (to the point I am sure some people are bored listening to me!), share ideas with stroke survivors, and try to help others face the challenges that a stroke can create. Much more prominent when it arrives at your door than when it happens to someone else.

So, large but “far away” issues elicit a small response, as do small ones that are much closer. That’s a measured reaction. If the problem you face is large and right beside you it deserves, and should get, much more of your attention.

Aim to be proportionate in the energy you put into tackling the obstacles you face. Proximity is just as important as size.

“Sometimes the situation is only a problem because it is looked at in a certain way. Looked at in another way, the right course of action may be so obvious that the problem no longer exists.” Edward de Bono

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