Print Posted by Brent Marchant on 08/31/2016

Putting Perspective into Perspective

Putting Perspective into Perspective

Those who practice conscious creation/law of attraction principles understand the importance of beliefs as the cornerstone of what fuels the process. But beliefs are seldom developed and employed as standalone thoughts and intents; rather, they often possess common qualities that link them to one another, even if they’re deployed for seemingly unrelated purposes. What ties these individual, diverse notions to one another is the concept of perspective.

To understand the relationship between perspective and beliefs, think of perspective as an underlying template from which our beliefs spring forth. It consists of a collection of core values to which we tend to cling zealously (if not stubbornly) and that subsequently color whatever arises out of them. Put another way, perspective can be thought of as the metaphysical equivalent of a computer operating system, with our individual manifesting beliefs serving as the applications or programs that run atop that core platform. So, even if our beliefs are intended to materialize different aspects of our lives, they nevertheless often arise from shared roots.

Just like our manifesting beliefs, we’re each capable of drawing from and adopting a wide variety of core perspectives, an ability that allows us to view a particular situation from an array of vantage points, each highly personalized. Perspective is thus what makes it possible for two or more individuals to perceive the “same” circumstances in different ways. For instance, is a room with a particular illumination level lit too brightly, too dimly or just right? Ask different people, and you’re likely to get a range of responses, even though logic would dictate that the answers seemingly “should” be the same. No one’s response is intrinsically “right” or “wrong,” either, since our individual perspectives account for the differences in our perceptions of these materializations (and the beliefs that manifest them), with each being equally valid in its own right.

Variances in perspective apply not only to different individuals; sometimes we’re capable of viewing particular situations in multiple, or even myriad, ways ourselves. The ability to see circumstances from different vantage points better enables us to assess how we respond to prevailing conditions, providing us with perspective options that might otherwise go unconsidered. And the specific beliefs we form in response to the particular outlook we adopt determine how our reality subsequently unfolds.

Perspective also enables us to perceive the jointly held traits present in seemingly unrelated situations in our lives. Something that occurs in our careers, for example, may have qualities that are similarly reflected in other areas of our existence, such as romance, creativity or spiritual matters. Endeavors that superficially might be seen as separate and distinct thus may not be as removed from one another as we might initially assume.

Perspective truly has many ways of making its presence felt in our lives. However, if we genuinely hope to fathom the nature of the beliefs that create our reality, it helps immensely to understand the character of the perspective that drives them. Such an awareness, for example, is important to make sense of our perceptions, which, in turn, often play a pivotal responsive role in the formation of subsequent manifesting beliefs. It’s also crucial when we feel the need to implement changes in our circumstances; indeed, it’s difficult to know where we want to go if we first don’t have a handle on precisely where we are. 

Numerous films examine perspective in relation to the foregoing principles. When it comes to assessing how life’s various events serve to color our overall outlook, for instance, consider the example offered up in the Coen Brothers’ offbeat comedy, “A Serious Man” (2009). The picture, set in the mid-1960s in suburban Minnesota, follows the life of Jewish everyman Larry Gopnick (Michael Stuhlbarg), a physics professor who strives to be a loving husband, a good provider and a competent professional. However, despite his well-meaning efforts, he’s repeatedly put upon by ungrateful kids, a ne’er-do-well brother, his unfaithful wife, a bigoted neighbor and judgmental colleagues. And, when he seeks guidance from a trio of rabbis, he’s met with cluelessness, irrelevance and indifference. But, as Larry comes to discover, life’s tests are nearly always accompanied by meaningful rewards—which, in turn, are followed by new and bigger tests with new and even bigger rewards. How Larry chooses to respond to these circumstances thus serves to frame the prevailing perspective he holds about his life, his reactions to those subsequent experiences and how his reality fundamentally unfolds, all of which, in turn, make it possible for him (if he so chooses) to assess (and, if needed, to alter) his viewpoint going forward.

Similar circumstances shape the narrative of “I’ll See You in My Dreams” (2015). Having lost many of the things that she loves about life, Carol, a vibrant but lonely widow (Blythe Danner), must decide whether she’ll spend her remaining days in relative seclusion or whether she’ll allow herself to get back into the swing of things. The fear of getting hurt again has kept her on the sidelines for years, but is that really living? That’s the question she must ask herself. With gentle nudges from friends, an unlikely drinking buddy and a sexy new romantic interest, Carol has an opportunity to embrace a new outlook on life and the beliefs she employs that go into creating it. The experience thus holds the potential to provide her with a new perspective about what she wants, how she lives and what life is really all about.

Of course, the belief choices we make for creating our reality go a long way toward reinforcing our overall perspective, a notion superbly illustrated in the thought-provoking character study, “Another Year” (2010). Tom and Gerri, a London couple on the brink of their golden years (Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen), love their lives and one another, and they generously share their good fortune with others. However, when one of their friends, Mary (Lesley Manville), starts to take advantage of their kindness as a crutch in hopes of helping her resolve her many self-created problems, friction arises. If amicable relations are to be preserved, Mary must examine her beliefs and the perspective underlying them, for they will impact both her friendship with Tom and Gerri and her quality of life generally.

In some instances, the perspectives and resulting beliefs we choose to adopt can potentially carry even greater consequences, as seen in the offbeat Mexican drama, Malos Hábitos” (“Bad Habits”) (2007). This film, easily one of the most unusual releases of recent years, offers an insightful meditation on our relationship to two seemingly unrelated but fundamentally essential aspects of life—spirituality and food. Though superficially disparate, they’re linked by the common thread of being sources of “nourishment,” one for our bodies, the other for our souls. The picture thoughtfully explores the various perspective options available to us in these areas through an interwoven collection of storylines involving members of the Soriano family, all of whom are affiliated in one way or another with a Catholic university and convent in Mexico City. And, as the film unfolds, viewers witness an array of perspective possibilities play out on screen, ranging from healthy and well-adjusted to overwrought and self-destructive. The implications in that are truly wide-ranging, with ramifications that extend well beyond the primary areas under exploration in the picture’s central premise.

As noted above, our perspectives and the beliefs that arise from them are often significantly shaped by our perceptions of our reality (which, themselves, are products of those beliefs and perspectives). Those perceptions, in turn, may present each of us with views of reality that differ markedly from those held by others (even those we think of as our kindred spirits). Consider the scenario presented in the Oscar-winning drama “Ordinary People” (1980). In a household where everything seemingly should be free of pain and hardship, an affluent family living on Chicago’s upscale North Shore seeks to pick up the pieces and reassemble itself in the wake of a pair of twin tragedies, the death of one son (Scott Doebler) and the attempted suicide of another (Timothy Hutton). But is that all that’s amiss in the Jarrett family? And is everything that’s supposedly problematic really as troubling as some contend? Perceptions alone don’t always tell the entire story, and going beneath the surface to see what underlying perspectives are truly at work is essential to understanding how the family’s reality has unfolded as it has—and what it will take to resolve their challenges.

Comparable circumstances surface in the riveting biopic “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), which tells the life story of Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash (Russell Crowe), who battled mental illness during a significant portion of his adult life. As portrayed in the film, is the reality Nash perceives genuine, or is he suffering from an elaborate delusion? Answers may not be as easy to come by or as clear-cut as one might think, a challenge for both characters and viewers alike. What’s more, as this picture reveals, what we think of as a handicap in one context may actually prove to be a blessing in another, something that should give us all pause to contemplate the breadth of our prevailing perspective.

Courtroom dramas are especially good vehicles for addressing situations in which opposing parties hold divergent perspectives about how events unfolded and what should be done about them. “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem” (2014) provides a particularly good example, in which the title character (Ronit Elkabetz), an Israeli woman, seeks to dissolve her marriage to the husband she no longer loves (Simon Abkarian). However, because Israel has no civil divorce proceedings, Viviane must make her case before an all-male religious court. Such tribunals have historically ruled in favor of the husband’s wishes, no matter what they may be, so Viviane faces an uphill battle in pressing her claim, especially since her contention is seen as weak and meritless. To complicate matters further, given the stalemate between the parties, each side must take an unconventional step to prove their case, namely, calling on third-party witnesses to testify about their impressions of the couple’s relationship. This process, which is rife with myriad perceptions and perspectives about the nature of marriage, the character of the litigants’ relationship, and what’s ultimately considered “right,” will nevertheless decide the fate of these dueling partners and the uncertain future they face. 

Viewers’ perspectives about what’s transpiring on screen are challenged in a number of films as well, such as Bobcat Goldthwait’s dark comedy, “World’s Greatest Dad” (2009). When Lance Clayton (Robin Williams), a high school poetry teacher and would-be author, discovers that his rambunctious, smart-mouthed teenage son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara), has accidently killed himself, he tries to give him some semblance of dignity by making his death look like a suicide. Lance even goes so far as to pen a phony suicide note and ante-mortem personal journal. But, when reactions to the once-despised (and now sympathetically misunderstood) teen begin to change drastically, so, too, do Lance’s responses to the newly unfolding events. Some of Lance’s actions could be seen as altruistic, with others being wholly self-serving. So is he truly the world’s greatest dad for what he does? Or is he a cynical embodiment of that appellation? Tune in, and decide for yourself.

Audience perceptions are similarly tested in the chilling psychological drama, “Sound of My Voice” (2012). When investigative documentary filmmaker Peter Aitken (Christopher Denham) goes under cover to infiltrate a Los Angeles cult, he seeks to expose the group’s iconic leader, Maggie (Britt Marling), who claims to be a time traveler from the future. Maggie also claims to  possess a special singular wisdom, a purportedly insightful outlook that she routinely taps in justifying the questionable demands she places on her unquestioning followers. Peter’s plan to reveal her as a manipulative fraud encounters a snag, however, when evidence surfaces that suggests her claim just may be true. But is it? Again, you decide. 

In the end, perspectives, like beliefs, make a wide range of options possible. Which one we end up with depends on us. And movies, for their part, can help to shed light on this by showing us the influential role they play in shaping the perspective that shapes our reality. 

Copyright © 2015, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

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