It’s not until I leave the mountains that I realize how high above sea level I live. Last week I drove down to South Carolina to run a few errands and pick up a birthday present for my son. Driving back, there’s a bend in the road where the trees part and the majesty of the mountains blasts into view and usurps the otherwise placid landscape. The beauty makes me feel proud, as if somehow by living in them I had something to do with their creation. It’s an illogical thought, and one that makes me smile with a bit of self-deprecation, but every time I start the ascent home I’m filled with a sense of pride and awe.
On this particular trip, whether it was the angle of the sun, the changing color of the leaves, or a moment of awareness, it occurred to me that when I’m at home in the mountains, it feels like I live on flat land. There aren’t any points of reference that would indicate I’m 2500 feet above sea level. When I drive around a mountain top to take the kids to school, from my point of reference, the mountaintop is only a hill. There isn’t a cliff that allows me to see the 2000 feet of earth below. It’s a gradation of elevation. It’s subtle. It’s not until I leave the mountains that I understand how high up I really live.
This realization about lacking a point of reference when one is submersed in something bleeds into other areas. For example, lately I haven’t been spending time on Facebook and some of my perspectives have changed. I went back to work full-time outside of the home, so I don’t have the time to interact with my friends and fellow writers like I did before. Between work, kids, husband, and laundry, any spare moments I have are spent writing or doing things with my friends and loved ones in real time. When I do have a moment to check in, I’m bombarded by the negativity.
Topics like Kim Davis and the bashing of homosexuals, the damnation of all who don’t do or believe what religious conservatives think we ought, the greed and corruption of big business, lobbyists and politicians, all of these diverse and acrimonious topics are spewed across my wall. It’s not that they weren’t before, but when I was on constantly, I became inured. Opposing sides on any issue didn’t converse and debate. Instead people called each other names. They belittled and bullied those who wouldn’t side with them and every day I worried more and more about the fate of mankind. This negativity and ugliness became the background noise of my life.
It wasn’t until I stopped spending time online that I realized how skewed my perspective had become. People in real life and real time do not go about arguing highly charged issues at any given moment. Whether it’s being face to face and not being able to hide behind a computer screen, people in real time have meaningful and respectful conversations. I realized that even though others feel as strongly about their opinions and beliefs as I do mine, we can still get along, be friends, and even share the basis for our beliefs. Just like leaving the mountains offered perspective, so did minimizing my time on Facebook. Reality is only one point of reference. Change your point. Watch what happens to your reality.
From somewhere around 2500 feet above sea level,
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