Oh Yes, Charles Chaplin Knew the Drill
Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot. – Charlie Chaplin
What does that mean?
As this quote is from a movie star, the term close-up means the camera (and therefore, the observer) is close to the subject and the details are very apparent. A long-shot is when the camera (and therefore, the observer) is very far away, and the details are very hard to discern.
This is saying that if you get really close and look at the details of the situation, you will be alarmed at the tragedy you see. However, if you back up and take it in from a greater distance, with some context to go with it, the same situation can become funny.
It’s the same situation, but it’s what you focus on. If you want to feel bad, focus on the details of how life is being mean. If you focus on the pickle on your burger, when you specifically said no pickle, you’re going to be upset. If you take a bigger view, and realize that that’s the first thing all day that’s gone wrong, and it’s easy to remove, instead of tragedy, you might find humor or even comfort.
Why is comfort important?
Things will always go wrong in your life. And, it being your life, you tend to live in your own close-up all the time. If you aren’t careful, that can lead to everything in your life being labeled a tragedy.
Sometimes, you need to get a broader view of things, or go to the long-shot of your life. How do the aforementioned pickles rate compared to the people who are starving or living in a war zone?
Sometimes, a little perspective helps to keep you grounded in reality. It’s easy to live in the close-up, but without perspective, it’s hard to find comfort in the never-ending tragedy that seems to be life in general, and yours in specific, right?
Where can I apply this in my life?
How often do you find yourself focused on something small? That’s a loaded question, of course. In the moment, it’s not small at all, but one of the biggest things ever to have happened to you. But if you’re like most of the people I know, it does happen from time to time, right?
I’ve been battling with building muscle at the gym for a long time.
Looking at it from a wider view, it really isn’t that important. Comparing it to the people who have loved ones killed, or are facing starvation or uncertain futures, it doesn’t even register, right. I find comfort that my worst problem is so trivial. How about you?
Grab some paper and write down what some of your biggest tragedies presently are. Now look at each and write down how tightly focused on the problem you are. Is there another way to look at the problem? A different angle, a different distance, a way to include a little more perspective?
How have your efforts worked out? Have you found a way to turn your tragedy into something less painful? Have you found a way to get some additional perspective on the situation? Have you found a way to change your focus from the close and personal to the larger view, and to appreciate the other parts of what ended in tragedy? Have you found a way to take comfort in the change of focus?
And in the end, when you are having trouble distancing yourself from tragedy, you can always find comfort in someone/something else.