I’m directing a play right now, Jeeves Saves the Day by Margaret Raether, which is an adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse’s famous Bertie and Jeeves stories from the 20s and 30s. In the play, a very thickheaded character named Egbert (Eggie) Bakewell is constantly getting himself and his cousin Bertie Wooster into trouble. No matter what Bertie says or does, he cannot get Eggie to walk the straight and narrow for even a short while.
A couple of scenes into the play, this exchange happens:
Bertie: Try to see my point of view.
Eggie: I do try. But my view takes up most of the foreground.
Every time I hear this line, I feel such a rush of recognition. Aren’t we all looking at our own view, most of the time? What effort it takes to truly see someone else’s point of view! And how oddly self-aware of Eggie to realize that he is, figuratively speaking, craning to see around his own viewpoint at all times.
When we can ask ourselves “What’s beyond my point of view? What’s in the background that I need to focus on?,” we give ourselves an opportunity to get a glimpse of someone else’s perspective. It’s probably foolish to imagine that we can do this for very long, since we’re all essentially Eggies. But what a nice reminder that our points of view are limited, and nowhere near the whole picture.
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