Perspective is everything. It can be the key ingredient to a remarkable photo or the foundation for a happy life.
I'm kind of obsessed with reading books on spirituality and discovering new perspectives in life. I was sitting in the ocean the other day surfing and realized just how much I've learned from this big blue teacher. The ocean is the ultimate giver of the gift of perspective.
Waves typically don't show up in constant succession. They come in sets. Usually three or four bigger waves roll in and then there is a break for a minute or two until the next set comes rolling through. Typically you've positioned yourself far enough out that you are past where the waves are crashing and you can watch the horizon for the set to appear. There are moments however when you are too far inside (or close to shore) when the set comes in. You end up getting pounded by wave after wave. The energy of the wave will swirl your body around, pulling you deep under the water and spinning you upside down. Sometimes the explosion of underwater energy will make you to become completely disoriented and exhausted.
When I was first learning to surf I'd panic whenever this would happen and I'd expel all of my energy trying to fight the waves and survive. I'd begin breathing hard become scared. I've got a unique heart condition too that causes my heartbeat to race (up to 260 beats per minute) when I feel a big rush of adrenaline. When this happens I get really dizzy and loose strength in my limbs. It's a little hard to swim when you can't lift your arms.
Now, this sounds scary but over time I've learned to talk myself into remaining calm. There are moments when I'll get tumbled by a big wave, only to reemerge at the surface in time to get smashed again. I'll feel my adrenaline kick off and my heart start to pound. I close my eyes and repeat to myself "Waves come in sets. Waves come in sets. Waves come in sets." This helps me remember that even though right now feels like madness and like there is no way to escape, soon the set will be over and I'll get a break.
Recognizing that the chaos is temporary suddenly adds a calming perspective. Life often tumbles you around and disorients you. Sometimes it feels like you are being hit by wave and wave and that there will never be a break. When this happens we can remember this: waves come in sets. It will be over soon. Stay calm. Don't panic. Everything is temporary.
The ocean also adds perspective because of it's sheer size. Sometimes my problems feel so big and so important. I'll become mentally overcome because of work or issues at home and I get caught up on "my" world. When I'm sitting on my little surfboard at dawn, staring out at the endless horizon of the Pacific ocean I suddenly feel so small. The ocean connects everything and is filled with life. It can destroy entire cities, and affect the weather of an entire continent. Staring out at the ocean has the same effect as staring up at the stars. It's hard to feel big and important when looking into greatness.