Transcendental Journal Assignment: Post 1

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It’s springtime. Or, rather, the calendar says it’s springtime. In my backyard, the weather seems less eager to make up its mind. Most of the snow has melted by now, but the little that remains prevents complete optimism, and the temperature still warrants a winter coat. My search for uncivilized nature leads me away from the house to an area bestrewn with leaves and other plant matter, wet from melted snow. The tiny bits of snow on the ground seem delicate, at the mercy of the sun’s vicious beams. This sparks an ironic thought: the frigidity which strips trees and lawns bare of plant life is, itself, dying. Death, paradoxically, can lead to life. I consider writing my blog entry on this idea. Ah well, maybe next time. I make my way over to the treehouse-like structure known affectionately to my family as “the fort” and, scaling the climbing wall, arrive successfully on the roof. I lie down on my back and look up at the sky. I mostly see the branches of overhanging trees. Apart from a few clouds, the sky is mostly clear. Being nearly noon, the sun unfortunately shines directly down into my eyes, prompting me to block it with my hand.

Without the oppressive brightness, the atmosphere was quite comfortable. The lower profile afforded by lying down reduced* the wind chill, and the sun was** delightfully warm. It seemed odd how the sun is so uncomfortably bright and yet so warm and comforting. I realized at this point that I’d found my blog topic. In addition to being quite pleasant, this experience reminded me of what ought to be an obvious truth: a small change in perspective can have a powerful effect on how someone sees his surroundings, just as someone who looks directly at the sun will have a different experience from someone who guards his eyes.

This idea can be extended to personal matters as well: perspective plays an important role in much of how we experience life. For example, if we view every difficult situation in a negative light, we simply reinforce our belief that nothing good ever happens in life and remain perennially unhappy. On the other hand, if we look on the bright side of those very same situations, we can remain happy and hopeful for a good future. Perspective also plays an important role in our relationships with other people. If we always assume the worst of others, we will never form productive and satisfying relationships with them. This pessimistic, prejudiced perspective is a general form of racism: we consider people “guilty” without ever giving them a chance to prove themselves “innocent.” It takes a bit of optimism and open-mindedness to let people into our lives. In general, it pays to maintain a positive perspective.

*changed from “reduces” on 8 April 2014

**changed from “is” on 8 April 2014


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