An inescapable truth of New York living is the ads on the subway. If you live in suburbia, it is sort of like having a billboard attached to the side mirror of your car. You simply have to notice it.
Most of the ads are as forgettable as they are prevalent. But we recently saw one with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common”.
The phrase has stuck out to me for a number of reasons. But most importantly, because it is a call to perspective. True perspective. To see and appreciate things as they truly are.
Nobody really asks me what I love about being a writer (except when Oprah is interviewing me in my imagination). But if they were to ask, I know my answer.
Being a writer is an invitation to see the world. Ky and I sometimes play this game on the subway where we each look around and pick three people who look like interesting characters to build a story around. I often walk by a tree blowing in the wind and slow down to work out a good way to describe it in my head.
The call on the writer’s life is to not let so much pass you by. To slow down and really try to name the truth of what is going on. A lot of people assume writers just make stuff up out of their imagination. That is only partially true. They see the world through writer goggles and partner what they observe with what they imagine.
After all, miracles are just things we rarely see. That is what we’ve reduced them to. We want to be awed by newness. We want to see a unicorn. But if we saw a unicorn everyday, they’d be as common as horses or dogs.
There is a sunset everyday. A person walking around who has made it through the miracle of conception and birth. Just because they are frequent, does not mean they are not amazing. If we demand miracles always be new, we are no better than spoiled children who love a toy for ten minutes before discarding it.
There is too much in our world that has been discarded. Too much is being looked over, looked past, looked through.
Perspective is the power to see true. It can transform the way we think and feel, the way we live and behave, and the way we believe.
The difference between the miraculous and the mundane is not whether or not you are amazed. The difference is what perspective you choose.