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A Matter of Perspective

Posted Feb 25 2011 6:44pm

A few days ago the snow fell.  Not common for these parts but not a surprise.  I used to live in North Idaho and when the snow fell there, it was a snowfall. What we received here in Southern Oregon would be considered a dusting.  A light dusting.  A very light dusting.  It’s all relative though – I have learned that.  For one who doesn’t spend much time in the snow, you might consider our light dusting a snow storm.  That’s what a lot of people around here think.  That’s how I used to think, a friend reminded not long ago.

When I first moved to Idaho, that friend came to visit me the first November I lived there.  I dropped my kids off at school and we went to breakfast.  While sitting there enjoying our time together, it began to snow outside.  The longer we sat there, the more nervous I became, knowing that ‘back home’ (where I grew up in Northern California) this would be considered a reason for picking up your kids early to avoid traffic accidents and things of that nature.  After all, there is an inch of snow on the ground.    Snow in Northern California was scary to me, for as a child I lived in the redwoods and there were trees all around our house.  On the rare occasions that it did snow, the limbs of the trees were not used to the weight and couldn’t support the snow and they’d break and snap off all over the place.  All you could hear were branches and even whole trees fall.  ‘Widow-makers’ they called them.  We would stand in the open area and pray for it to stop.

So, back in the restaurant, as my friend and I sat eating breakfast, I told her we should probably stop on the way home and pick up the kids from school.

I pulled into the school parking lot, obviously one of the last ones to pick up my kids, as the parking lot was pretty empty.  I went into the office.  All the staff was still going strong.  I told them why I was there and the woman at the counter actually laughed at me.  After that, I lived in Northern Idaho for ten years and my kids only stayed home one day because of snow during that time and that was the school district didn’t want the buses running because the streets were so icy.

Now, here I am in Southern Oregon and I find myself doing the same thing when I hear residents around town panicking over the same thing – an inch of snow.  I laugh.  The year before we left Idaho was a record snowfall.  Since leaving, that record has been broken.   It has to do with where you come from, what you’ve grown accustomed to, what you’ve become comfortable with.

I am learning that having Parkinson’s disease can be like that.  Life’s struggles – whatever they may be – can be like that.  When not much has occurred in your life to send you panicking and then something does come up – well, it gets you scared.  Then, after we have to live with it (whatever ‘it’ may be) for a while, we may adjust and it doesn’t seem so bad – ‘til the next stage (or situation) appears.  Then it’s another storm – this one perhaps considered the ‘heavy snowfall’ – and we realize that earlier situation where we panicked was just a ‘dusting’.

It’s perspective.  It’s an opportunity, once you’ve gotten past the first couple ‘panic attacks’, to step back and walk with another who perhaps isn’t as far in their journey as you have now come.  It’s an opportunity to be an encouragement, a support, a listening ear.  What once seemed so frightening is now easy to talk about.  What once seemed larger than life is now manageable.

There will be times when we are the person stuck in the heavy snowfall and need a hand, but when it’s over and we look back and can see that it was only a dusting compared to the storm that’s dumping on us now, we will see we have grown.  We have become stronger if we can look back and are able to see where we have come and what we can now endure.  Some of our branches may bend, some of them may break, but we will still stand because the dustings make us stronger.  They empower us to be able to withstand the heavier snowfalls in our lives.

As I sit here, last night’s snowfall has now melted.  The sun is breaking through the clouds and shining through the window and I can feel its warmth.  It really wasn’t a storm after all.  Just a dusting.  But then, it’s all a matter of perspective.

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