Strolling along a shell-littered seashore highlights the nature of perspective.
Some might see it as an accumulation of death… evidence of the finality of life. Others might see the birds feeding on the remnants within the shells as evidence of the continuity of life.
It serves to illustrate how two people can look at the same thing, at the same moment, and arrive at two diametrically opposed conclusions.
The simultaneity of perspectives—two conclusions from one set of circumstances—offers us an insight into how our differences can be both complementary and contradictory. These different perspectives are both necessary for our survival.
In the example of the shells on the beach, it is important for us to be reminded that our lives have limitations and we all share the same fate, encouraging us to embrace the moments we have. We also need reminding that life continues and we can live on in the memories of those we leave behind.
“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”Jack London
What we do with our life matters, even if you are the only one who ever knows about it.
But different perspectives are only of value if we understand and appreciate the differences, even if our own perspective is unlike those held by others.
In a country torn apart by our dangerous descent into zero-sum politics—where you are with us or our most dangerous enemy—we face the genuine risk of losing our understanding of perspectives.
Go for a walk on a beach, look at the shells scattered there, and realize they may be both a portent of our inevitable end and a reminder that, as long as you are still walking on the beach, there is time to make a difference.