Defining Self-Dev: A Glance Through Someone Else’s Lens

At LAX in the baggage line stood a family of six: Mom & Dad, the boy (7-years-old and the eldest,) two girls and a baby of unidentified gender. Behind them, the things they carried: Dora the Explorer roll-y bags, cheap carnival-won plush animals popping out of backpacks like Whack-a-Moles, Samsonite luggage and a car seat. The kids were quiet. Elephant-dart tranquil. When Mom asked them to stand aside, so they could get everything sorted, they obediently did so. With even the softest palette of primary colors, Norman Rockwell couldn’t paint domesticity this serene.

Yet the parents looked absolutely haggard. Pacquiao could warm up on the bags beneath Mom’s eyes. She wore a hand-knit scarf the color of Kansas’s skyline that accentuated the lines by her eyes. Dad raised a hand to push back his thinning black hair, and exposed the pouch of a Once-Upon-a-Time baseball player. He kept the weight at bay for years with after work jogs and heavy-weight/low-rep lifts, but now when he returns home he’s tripped up worse than an AT-AT Walker on Hot, by a toddler-barrage fighting for his attention.

I always (half-) jokingly said I’d like five children. I have three siblings already and thought there was room for yet another little person to look up to me and adore me, as I’m vehemently assured my brothers and sister always did. A family of seven would have been wonderful.

Watching the spectacle at LAX was the first time I examined the possibility of raising five children through the lens of a parent, however. The idea, now, requires revisiting.

Revisiting ideas through a different lens is why I track the books I read, and ideas as I read them, in Evernote and here. At different junctures of life and career, the lens changes — we change focal length by moving closer or further from the situation, we shift the curve of our trajectory, or there’s new clarity when something was once opaque. It’s an exercise in self-development and self-awareness, but more importantly, it exercises our ability to understand others. To empathize with others.

Isn’t that what self-development is? Seeing the world through someone else’s lens, and realizing that we are not always right, and they are not always wrong?

Photo Credit: Katja Kemnitz

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