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Dr Morrison on True Proportions

2009 July 25
by Gordon Reid

We are not here to stand aloof from  things, and to steel our hearts against disturbances. We are here to welcome whatever God may send, whether it be sunshine or be sorrow, and somehow out of all unsettlement to wrest the music of our triumph-song.

Well now, one great help to that is learning to see things in their true proportions. Without a certain feeling for perspective, we can never be quite in the thick of life. You remember what Dr Johnson said to a friend who was worrying about a trifle? “Think, sir,” he said, in his wise way, “think how little that will seem a twelve-month hence.” And if we only practised that fine art of thinking how little many a thing will seem a twelve-month hence, we should be freed from much unsettlement tonight. It is good to know a big thing when we see it. It is not less good to know a little thing.

There are people to whom the tiniest burn (Scottish for “stream”) is as swift and dangerous as the Spey. And always when you have people of that nature, who have never taken the measurements of life, you have people who live on the margin of unsettlement. Next to the grace of God for thoroughbearing, there is nothing more kindly than a little humour. To see things in a smiling kind of way is often to see them in the wisest way. For as there are things, and always shall be things, that strike to the very heart of human destiny, so there are things, and always shall be things, that are so trifling as to be ridiculous.

It is amazing how many worthy people seem never to have learned that simple lesson. You would think they had never heard the words of Jesus about swallowing the camel and straining at the gnat. And so they are always in peril of unsettlement, not because their experience is exceptional, but because they have never learned in life to see things in their true proportions.

One Response leave one →
  1. August 9, 2009

    Funny, the timing of this post, as it is a topic that has been on my mind with respect to my own life. I suppose that perspective is something one comes to value with some experience, and then with further experience one becomes more able to obtain it. Perhaps one obstacle which all of us contemporaries face in this respect is the undue attention paid to minutiae at the expense of the essentials: Richard Weaver called it fragmentation and obsession. I try to avoid it, but usually fail!

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