Sometimes distance is our friend. When we press our noses up against the glass of our troubles, they seem immediate and overwhelming. But if we can take the eagle’s-eye view, or the perspective of time, we often find that what preoccupies us now is fleeting.
As Samuel Johnson said to Boswell about a certain problem: “Consider, Sir, how insignificant this will appear a twelvemonth hence. Were this consideration to be applied to most of the little vexatious incidents of life, by which our quiet is too often disturbed, it would prevent many painful sensations. I have tried it frequently, with good effect.”
Many of the Torah’s most memorable stories are lessons in leaving bad things behind: Abraham journeys from Ur, Lot flees Sodom, the Israelites escape slavery. The establishment of physical distance is a lesson in spiritual and emotional separation as well. We outlive many sorrows and forget about endless troubles in the course of a lifetime. To accelerate the process, imagine the perspective you will attain one day, and adopt it now.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow his teachings at www.facebook.com/RabbiWolpe.