By Nan Russell
(In The Scheme of Things)
Connecting with our two granddaughters via web cam makes a pleasant Sunday afternoon event. So it was last week, hearing about the excursion to the zoo and an upcoming playmate's birthday party from the just-turned-three-year-old. Noticing her sister in the background I asked, "So how's your sister doing?" "Okay Nana. But she's still not walking!"
Her comment made me laugh since her sister is only five months old. But her orientation to the world stuck with me, just as it did a few months earlier on the day her sister was born. Driving her to the hospital to visit her parents and meet her sibling, she lost interest in a grandparent sing-a-long, getting fidgety and impatient to get there. I'd forgotten to bring any toys, so I offered her binoculars. Engaged for two or three minutes as she repeatedly took them out and put them back in the case, she said, "Turn them on, Nana".
No matter how many times I explained how to use them, restating again and again that they didn't turn on, she persisted. And each time we got in the car that week, she wanted me to show her how to turn them on. Obviously in her world, everything turns on.
In my world, everything doesn't. Yet, it's taken me a few decades to realize my world isn't the only world, nor the right world. There are many worlds out there. How different the world is for a three-year-old, a thirteen-year-old, a thirty-three-year-old, and a eighty-three-year-old. We think the world we see is the same, but it isn't.
It's certainly not the same world for a single mom of three as it is for a multigenerational family living together and pooling resources. It's not the same world for a young tech-professional father supporting his family as it is for a same-aged laid-off trucker seeking work to support his. And when we go beyond our local orientations and niches, it's definitely not the same world for a nomadic tribeswoman trekking on the sand dunes of Namibia as it is for a cosmopolitan, Wall Street executive living on the twentieth floor overlooking Central Park.
Our world is different from anyone else's. Like the new reality series, Undercover Boss highlights, how firmly we orient to our own world often blinds us to seeing someone else's. There's a great line in the film, Whip It. The mother of a teenage Roller Derby phenomenon, not understanding how her daughter, Bliss, can enjoy such a sport remarks, "This is just a moment." Her daughter quips back, "Well, how great is that!"
In the scheme of things, we do live in different worlds. My three-year-old granddaughter offered me a glimpse of hers. But here's the thing: when we share what we experience and see in our own world, instead of connecting only with those who share a similar orientation, we create a path for greater insight and understanding. As we glimpse other worlds, looking beyond self to the bigger universe we share, we evolve our humanity. I echo, "How great is that!"
© 2010 Nan S. Russell. All Rights Reserved
Nan Russell left the corporate world in 2002 to pursue a life dream to work and write from the mountains of Montana. Today she is the award winning author of Hitting Your Stride, a syndicated columnist, motivational speaker, and the weekly radio host of "Work Matters with Nan Russell. More about Nan and her work at http://www.nanrussell.com/ or follow her insights and tips on twitter @nan_Russell