My senior thesis at Utah State was about the use of perspective in pioneer narratives. I know, I know – how droll, you think– but before you skip this and start looking for personal ads, hear me out.
Think about it. Our perspective or viewpoint, if you will, colors everything. It is how we see and remember the world and all that we experience in it.
In my thesis, I discovered that two people recounting the same exact tale would tell it differently, because their age, gender, religious background, etc. colored how they saw it.
Case in point, your courtship story. I guarantee you tell it differently than your spouse.
Or how about the first snow of the year? When I was a child, I loved that first snowfall. It meant sledding and snowball fights and flocking Justin Busk. It also meant hot chocolate with marshmallows, sitting on the heat-vent in the kitchen in the morning and helping my dad start the fire. And it was a magical time that heralded the arrival of that greatest day of all: Christmas.
By the time I was a teenager, the first snow meant church parking lot donuts in our station wagon, more sledding (this time with girls), and flocking Ramie Migliori. It was a wonderful time filled with excitement like bombing cars with snowballs and stealing Christmas lights, but I really can’t go into that due to the statute of limitations – and because Rex Hansen’s family is still looking for me.
Now, as a grown man, the inaugural storm means that I’m late on winterizing my sprinkler system again and that Christmas will be here all too soon.
But it also means snuggling with my sweetheart next to a roaring fire watching It’s A Wonderful Life while drinking sugar free hot chocolate with –sigh– no marshmallows. It is now a charming time fraught with bills and frenzy.
Back to recounting the tale and perspective. Imagine witnessing a car wreck late at night during that first bad snowstorm.
As an adult, I immediately think, ‘Is everyone okay?’ ‘Do they need help?’ or possibly, ‘Don’t you people remember how to drive in the snow?’
As a teen, my reaction is, ‘Awesome! Did you see that?’ or maybe, ‘Ha! His dad’s gonna kill him!’
And as a child, I would say, ‘Look, I caught a snowflake on my tongue!’