A few days after I finished last week’s blog post on the ephemeral beauty of that complex cactus flower, I encountered another striking flower from a very different perspective. This year’s abundant monsoon rains have brought with them a profusion of dropped and drowned flowers, which I encounter frequently on my morning walks. I don’t know the name of the tree from which this one fell, but it’s the antithesis of last week’s blossom: one single row of petals surrounding a much simpler center.

The reason I wanted to share this pavement portrait—as I’ve come to call such photos—is that it’s a cool lesson in perspective. I shared it with my spiritual director, who noted a connection between the center of this blossom and the dark spots on the surrounding pavement. It seems the flower is somehow sunken into the pavement, doesn’t it? Take a good look, then take a moment to click on this Instagram link to see another photo of this exact same flower, taken from a different perspective. As you can see, your eyes and mind played tricks on you!

Perspective is important in life. We think we’re seeing something from the top when we’re looking at the bottom. We imagine one outcome and another evolves, sometimes as if by magic. We think we have the answers when, in reality, we’re not even asking relevant questions.

I shared the photos when I was talking with my spiritual director about keeping an open perspective on an upcoming vacation trip to Colorado (which finished two days ago). I love the Rocky Mountains and had been looking forward to hiking and taking photographs. However, the fires across the Western states were bringing thick smoke to the areas I planned to visit, making it likely that the stunning landscape vistas and fresh air I’d enjoyed two years ago would be unavailable to me this trip.

Therefore, in preparation for this journey, I intentionally worked to shift my perspective. Rather than focus on what I probably wouldn’t experience, I embraced a stance of openness and curiosity toward what I would encounter during my time there. I planned to visit a long-term friend, a grandson, and my parents. Each of those are important relationships that benefit from my intentional focus. I can shift my perspective from hiking and mountain photography alongside these precious people and welcome the chance to deepen our ties through conversation and shared experience, whatever the location or activities.

When have you needed to shift your perspective in order to accept a disappointing reality? How can you embrace the different gifts that do appear in such seasons?

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