You know the usual Friday morning office chat, where everyone arrives in a good mood since it’s almost the weekend, but no one quite has the energy to kick start those last 7 hours of work yet? It’s not the normal Monday, “how was your weekend?”, or the mid-week classics about “how the kids are doing” or “this great new gym class I went to last night”. It’s more reflective and philosophical than that, almost nonsensical. It could be anything from what 5 people, living or dead, you’d like to have dinner with, to what your chosen superpower would be. The trending topic the other week amongst me and my colleagues was what our lives would be like if we were best-selling authors, and what each of our books would be about, leading us to make millions (naturally!).
There was one girl who said she would write about refugee camps, as she (very admirably) volunteers in her spare time to help integrate refugees into society. She told us several stories about people she had worked with, where they had come from and where they were now. She spoke of how they considered her to be “rich”, not because of what she earned, but because she was fortunate. Fortunate enough to have family, friends, a happy upbringing, an education, a society which encouraged her values and freedom. Those experiences made her the richest person one could hope to be in their eyes.
We chatted about how a story like that really gives you some perspective on life. Every single day we moan about meaningless “first world problems”, forgetting that there are much more serious problems going on in the world (or perhaps pretending they don’t exist). So, we made a pact, in which we’d try to keep the bigger picture in mind, and not let the stress of our day to day work overwhelm us. We vowed to always take a deep breath, not to snap at each other under times of pressure and to help each other out as much as possible as colleagues. Because at the end of the day, we ARE very fortunate.
Ironically, about 7 minutes after our conversation ended, the very same girl who told us the story went storming off in a stressed out frenzy because of yet another urgent email demanding something budget-y and excel spreadsheet-y. Then 5 minutes after that, I was moaning about how many meetings I had that afternoon meaning I wouldn’t get to eat lunch until later.
So turns out that’s the thing about perspective: the goal isn’t to have it, but to have it and keep it (for more than 7 minutes at least…).