I have recently had several conversations I thought would never happen. Nothing earth shattering, but perspective shifting. A die-hard packers fan able to accurately vociferate and argue a few good points, who picks up Gladwell on her own volition was surprising. As was the admittance that another coworker read this terrible little blog and cried when reading my Slammed entry. We see each other very, very thinly, in my case even after a year of shared employment. Despite my best efforts to probe deeper into my surroundings I have failed to notice these aspects of humanity, as I had apparently failed to notice the ten ton boulders that littered Central Park that are obviously a different composition than the rock that surrounds them. Below I will offer a difference of perspective that has some more compelling effects beyond the color of a rock or the fragments of personality:
I sit and play in the dirt. It is a relatively cool day, a wind wisps the sand around the desolate buildings. Despite their empty appearance the sound of children playing can be heard resonating through the narrow alleyways, my own voice adding to the vocal orchestra. Below me is a few scraps of some technological device, well beyond repair its bright colors are more amusement than the tanned and rusted grains of dirt around it. These scraps of a device give bring me such intense joy- my childish mind turns a solenoid into a ray-gun, a chip into intergalactic currency. Hours could have gone by, or maybe just minutes flittered past in this active mind. Heavy steps reverberate, and two pairs of heavy boots turn around the corner, two men in green notice my play. They do not smile, and when our eyes lock the do not see the joy in my eyes. Their progression halts, and immediately they begin yelling. Their voices are harsh, tone demanding but in my confusion I cannot understand them. My hands raise, I submit to their apparent demands, but instead of sedating the pair of wild men they become more belligerent. Their screams continue, my hands shake nervously. The toy I had been enjoying rattles loosely in my hand, body refusing to listen to my frightened commands. The men continue their onslaught, their eyes widen, fear present and shared between the three of us. Their hands rattle as mine do, but their do not rattle so invalidly above my head. One of their fingers shakes more violently than before and a pop emits from the device in their hands. I am pained, and my shaking hands begin to slow their fervor. The desert around me slowly fades, the heat loosing its grip allowing the cold to seep in.
Ben and I continue our route. It is hot, but not as oven-like as it has been in recent months. Sweat is omnipresent in this desert, and even this cool day is sweltering compared to the summers I spent in Minnesota as a child. Our patrol is fairly mundane today: no reports of IED’s in the area, no mortars landing near camp. We continue our vigilance regardless, these quiet days often lead to loud nights. Suddenly laughter breaks the still of the day- there are signs of life in this seemingly empty corridor. Another bend turned, and our route is another tenth completed. We round a sharp corner and we see something stir immediately in front of us. A boy, around 12 is tinkering in the dirt. I jab my partner, and halt our steps. His hands are moving in the sand, he is concealing something… explosive! Immediately I yell “STOP, BACK AWAY AND PUT YOUR HANDS UP” I haven’t yet learned the phrase that my sergent taught me, I hoped my tone would alert the child to stop his misdeeds. Instead his hands still move, shaking slightly. Our eyes lock, and for a moment I see fear, then anger. His right hand holds something cylindrical, with a silver trigger. As his hands begin to reach upward his thumb moves to the trigger. I continue to yell “STOP, DO NO MOVE! UNDERSTAND?” His dirty hands continue to move, he doesn’t succumb: I have only one option left. Exasperated I pull the trigger with my wobbling hand. A bullet flies, and this assassin in the dirt falls.
I’m sure these two viewpoints have been repeated before, but I find them a remarkable example of how a change in viewpoint, of perspective changes a situation entirely. Perspective is not understanding, and while I may try to offer my perspective in this blog I doubt there is the ability through these crude words to completely understand. After all, I only have my view: I pull the trigger. I do not know what lurks in the minds of you, my wonderful readers.