Walking out of the movie theatre from watching The Notebook, my friend stated, “That was an incredibly romantic movie.” to which I replied, “That movie was horrible. It glorified murder/suicide among the elderly.” “What the hell are you talking about?”, my friend exclaimed. We spent the last two hours taking in the same experience, so how is it we interpreted it so differently? And which perspective was correct?
A few years ago, my sister and I were discussing our mother. She had passed away when we were in our teens and early twenties. We were speaking of our memories and experiences of her and my sister said, “I don’t know who you are talking about. That’s not how I remember her.” How is it we experienced the same mother yet had such different experience of her? Which one of us remembered her correctly?
My friend and I could have become entrenched in our perspectives, arguing that our perspective was the right one. My sister and I could have argued till the sun came up, insisting our version of our mother was the right one.
When we choose to enter into this type of argument, the perspective we are really fighting for is the Either/Or; either I am right or you are right. We hold firm to the belief that there can be only one.
There is another way of looking at things, the Both/And.
The Notebook is an incredibly romantic story, and as much as my friend wanted to believe, they did not magically drift off into death together by sheer will. The one not bedridden took certain actions. My mother was a multifaceted human being, relating to my sister and I differently.
A freedom opens when we drop the need to defend our perspective and make space for the many possibilities. Our body relaxes, using our energy for other purposes. Our mind relaxes, becoming curious and exploratory. As we integrate new perspectives, we open and grow. Life becomes richer.
The next time you are confronted by a different perspective, I invite you to take a deep breath, release any tension you are feeling in your body, and ask yourself, “how can that also be true?”