I read a poem recently that made me stop in my tracks. The poem itself is powerful, and even more so, the mental shift it creates is compelling and brilliant. The poem is called “Refugees,” and was written by Brian Bilston.
They have no need of our help So do not tell me These haggard faces could belong to you or me Should life have dealt a different hand We need to see them for who they really are Chancers and scroungers Layabouts and loungers With bombs up their sleeves Cut-throats and thieves They are not Welcome here We should make them Go back to where they came from They cannot Share our food Share our homes Share our countries Instead let us Build a wall to keep them out It is not okay to say These are people just like us A place should only belong to those who are born there Do not be so stupid to think that The world can be looked at another way
It's intense, vivid, and if your views are similar to mine, pretty disturbing. But then the poet asks the reader to do something: read the poem from bottom to top.
And suddenly, my eyes were wide open. When read from bottom to top, the purpose and meaning behind the words was the complete opposite than when reading it top to bottom. The world can be looked at another way. How many things in my life could I choose to look at differently than what my initial instincts directed? Can I shift how I feel about situations if I take another look?
A good friend and fellow coach decided that she was going to follow her heart and move to the Dominican Republic on January 1st this year. The amazing go-getter that she is, she was ready to hit the ground running: get to know her new neighborhood, put in long hours for her international businesses, and start getting acclimated to her new life. Instead, she got a killer flu, and was bedridden her first week in this new country and in her new life. Any reasonable person would have been miserable, maybe even furious at the situation, and probably strongly considering whether this was a sign that she should just pack up her bags and head right back to the airport and to her comfortable life in the U.S. And yet: she saw in this crappy situation the opportunity to look at things in a different way. She wasn't able to get to work, wander the streets to taste the local flavors, or go out dancing. But she realized that moving can be a lonely process, and getting this killer flu allowed her to slow down and accept the amazing love she received from people bringing her soup, medicine, and giving her the gift of support. She realized that by focusing on what getting the flu gave her, she was actually grateful for it.
So much in life is how we perceive things. What's incredible is the power we have to choose what we see and how we react to it, for better or for worse. What are you choosing to see? Is that causing you stress? Pain? Boredom? Anger? Is there another angle from which you can look to feel differently about it? There's so much in this world that's out of our control, but how we respond to our surroundings and circumstances is our choice. The world can be looked at another way. Want to try?