Every now and then, my kids think it’s hilarious to switch seats with one another at the dinner table. They include their very accommodating parents in the event as they shuffle placemats and silverware around the table like little leprechauns before clamoring into their new seats. They proceed to spend the whole meal cracking themselves up about how different everything appears from their new vantage point.
(Yes, I know. We need to get out more.)
It’s such a small thing, being on the left side of the table instead of the right, or seeing a different face seated directly across from you, but that simple change is all my littles seem to need to get a fresh perspective on this everyday event. And somehow, they recognize that it matters.
I’m gaining new perspective this week myself, sitting in the audience of a conference rather than speaking from the stage, and I was reminded of just how valuable it can be to see an experience from the other side. I’ve been mesmerized by the words the speakers have had to offer, unencumbered by worries about whether or not the clicker would work or if that changed slide had made it into the final presentation deck. Instead of keeping up with a running mental checklist of final preparations and timelines, I am soaking in the experience.
It’s true that I love speaking, and running through that checklist would put me in my happy place on any other day, but this week? Well, the change of pace has been refreshing.
If I’m honest, there are lots of places in my life where I’m stationed in the command center behind the scenes, instead of being the one to enjoy the experience. Some of that comes with the territory of being a mom, and some of it is just my nature as a planner. I’m the one planning meals and making lunches and cooking dinner, the one packing the bags for a day at the zoo or a night at the ballpark or a weekend away, the one fretting about sunscreen and permission slips and snacks. We’re always prepared, but I’m not always able to let myself just be in the moment.
Being in the audience this week has been a gentle reminder that giving up the controls to someone else has benefits. That it’s okay to take my turn as the one who’s not in charge.
Where in your life are you normally stationed behind the scenes, handling all the details so everyone else can have the real experience? See if you can turn the tables once in a while and hand over the controls; I can promise you’ll see things you would otherwise have missed.
In fact, you’ll get a fresh perspective without even lifting a finger.