People say that a good seat in the backyard affords as accurate and inspiring a vantage point on the planet earth as any observation tower on Alpha Centauri. They are wrong. We see through a glass darkly. We find ourselves in the middle of a movie, or, God help us, a take for a movie, and we don't know what's on the rest of the film.
Dillard is writing about perspective. Seeing life, the world, from your backyard instead of some lofty vantage point. That would mean that the aliens observing the human race's follies from Alpha Centauri have no better understanding of our place in the universe than we do. Of course, Dillard takes exception with this idea. As she says, we--human beings--see through a glass darkly. We may see what's going on around us, but that doesn't necessarily bring us wisdom or understanding. Those things come with perspective.
Last night, I wasn't the greatest father in the world. My son, who is struggling with his ADHD right now, was being obstinate and aggravating. I was trying to make him understand why saying and doing mean things is wrong. That it hurts people's feelings and gets him in trouble. He was having none of my talk. He screamed, stomped his feet, and cried. I couldn't get him to listen or calm down. It wasn't my proudest parenting moment ever. And it accomplished absolutely nothing.
I thought my son was going to hate me forever. (I'm still convinced last night will be the source of many hours of therapy once he gets older.) When it was all over, I was still so angry that I didn't speak to anyone for a long time. I just pounded away on the keyboard of my laptop and glared at everyone.
The funny thing is, a little while after this incident, my son was laughing and talking to me as if nothing had happened. He had completely recovered from this scarring moment, and I was still sulking in a pool of guilt and anger. My son had forgiven me, and I was still in my backyard, gazing through a glass darkly. My son was on Alpha Centauri, looking down and saying, "Can I watch some Minecraft videos?"
I like to think I'm a forgiving person. That I don't hold grudges and have an Alpha Centauri vantage point. It's what I think distinguishes mentally and spiritually enlightened people from others. Well, my son taught me a lesson in forgiveness last night. By the time I went to bed, I felt like I'd been in some kind of desert for 40 days, facing my inner asshole self.
Marty did not earn any saint points yesterday.
Confessions of Saint Marty