Sunday, September 11, 2016

Life is all about your perspective

In the span of three weeks I went from having my toes in the sand of Florida’s Gulf Coast to tapping them in the Country Music Capital, Nashville, Tennessee. It’s good to get out of town every now and then to see how other people live. Everywhere, people are the same. Also, everywhere, people are different.

I am a people watcher. My motivations are mostly to educate myself on new and different trends and tendencies. My discoveries are always the same. There is nothing new under the sun. Maybe it’s the first time my eyes have seen it, but it’s not really new. It’s all about perspective.

Take this scene, for instance:

He sat quietly in a corner by himself reading the morning news updates. Steam wafted from his coffee cup. Between occasional sips, He rubbed his hand back and forth across his unshaven chin. The muted colors of his plaid, untucked, shirt made the not-so-wrinkle-free rumples seem less noticeable. He was wearing khaki shorts and black socks with casual, comfort shoes. If I asked him for his opinion of the news he was reading, he most likely would offer it plainly and unapologetically. I probably wouldn’t have to ask to see pictures of his summer vacation. He most likely had those cued up and ready to show any one who might seem unoccupied at the moment.

Hold that picture in your mind for a minute. Does it sound like anyone you know?

If I asked that question to someone of the Millennial Generation (between the ages of 20-40) they would probably recognize themselves or one of their peers in that scene. He would be sitting in a coffee shop reading social media updates on his tablet and ready to pull up his vacation pictures on his smart phone. He would be wearing black socks with his Chaco sandals. He would definitely have an opinion about the upcoming presidential election and would gladly share it.

If the scene were described to someone from the Baby Boomer Generation (between the ages of 55-70), they might see that scene with their father in it: an elderly man sitting at the breakfast table reading the daily news from a printed newspaper. His photos are from long ago vacations and are slides that would require a projector, but he’d still be ready to show them. He’s wearing orthopedic shoes with his black socks.  He, too, definitely has an opinion on the upcoming presidential election and would gladly share it.

Thinking about all this has also led me to consider not only how we see things, but also how we communicate them. Here’s the example the made me see again that there is nothing new under the sun:

“Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham. Would you like them here or there?”

 Those words bring up a flood of memories and sentiments for those of us who learned to read, or helped someone else learn to read, with “Green Eggs and Ham” which was published in 1960. Counting the spaces and punctuation in those four short sentences, it is 132 keystrokes.

Twitter is one of today’s top social media platforms in terms of number of users. It’s format limits posts to 140 characters or less. You only have 140 keystrokes or less to get your message out there. For the reader, it reduces the amount of time it takes to catch up on all the news. For the writer, it forces brevity and succinctness. Say it in as few words as possible, but make them potent. Dr. Suess figured that out a long time ago.

Of course, also equally relatable and Tweetable: “I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am.”  That’s 134 characters.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  That’s 137 characters, including the reference.

If there is nothing new, how do we explain scientific discoveries or fashion trends? Why do we hope for a cure for cancer? It’s not the trends, discoveries, or the cure that satisfies our need for something new. We will always need something else beyond those things. It’s the hope. It’s the longing we have for something better than this world where nothing is new. I believe our Creator put that longing in our hearts. Ecclesiastes also says that our Creator has made everything beautiful in its time and that He has put eternity in our hearts. There will come a time when it truly will all be new and beautiful. Longing for that eternity is the motivation to keep pressing on.

The Creator, not the created, is responsible so hold on and keep moving towards Him.

“Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5

Originally posted September 11, 2016 on