Relativity by M. C. EscherPBS Nova Science recently did a program on how the brain works. Magic and its misdirection depends on us reacting in certain ways that have over the course of evolution, helped us survive.  For instance our eyes follow movement and we construct a reality with what we expect, and the magician depends on that for the trick to work.  The drawings of M. C. Escher similarly play upon how our minds form constructs to view what we think of as reality, but is subjective to perspective and relativity.

There is an old Zen story of a samurai who came to a master and asked the difference between heaven and hell. The master said, “How could someone as ugly as you ever have become a samurai?” The samurai was overcome with anger and was drawing his sword to kill the master when the master said, “That is hell.”  The samurai smiled as he came to realize that the hell was coming from within.  With that, the master said, “That is heaven.”

So often our feelings are determined by the stories we tell ourselves and the constructs we make.  I always think about a woman I met years ago in New York City.  She was Jewish and had escaped from Poland with her father just ahead of the advancing German army.  At the time, the Japanese were assisting with visas for those leaving.  The escape route led them across Siberia to Japan to Canada and eventually to the US.  She told me how things are all relative.  She complained then of New York winters, but in reality they were mild compared to those of Siberia.  She said you tend to forget or ignore those difficult times in the past, and lose perspective on the present.  I thought of that this past weekend as a person was complaining of how it was freezing outside.  It was 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  She was from central health.

When things are looking difficult, remember your strengths. Have you been in similar situations before? Is this really so bad that it is insurmountable?  Can you break down whatever it is into smaller more manageable pieces? Imagine how you would like the situation to be or to resolve in a positive way, and write your story to move in that positive direction. And talk to people you trust to help you with ideas, follow through and support. And they can help you maintain perspective.