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#20964 Amanda Perry Chapel Talk

Shifting Perspectives

I am sure that many of you can relate to the negative feelings associated with being stuck at home. We all have unexpectedly been forced to adopt a new way of life and it is easy to only highlight the negatives. I personally  have struggled to adapt to this new and scary reality, and I would like to take this opportunity to share an experience that helped alter my view of current events.

In the beginning of April I was virtually finishing my school year from my parents house in CT, counting down the days until May 1st (when we thought the state would reopen), and–like many of you–eagerly awaiting word on camp. It had been a huge adjustment coming home from my dorm room in Boston and back to sharing a bathroom with my fully grown siblings. I was scared of the unknown, sad about missing out on my college experience, and above all else I was extremely lonely.

Now, I admit that I did not have the healthiest response to what was going on. I could have easily spent more time going on walks, catching up on reading or talking with the family I was quarantined with. But in those first couple of weeks, all that I wanted to do was seclude myself and lay in bed. 

So that is exactly what I did.

I would wake up in my bed, attend classes from my bed, do my homework in my bed, and spend the rest of the day procrastinating from my bed. This cycle kept repeating itself until that one-day in early April it struck me that…

“My bed feels really small.”

This may seem like a pretty straight-forward thought, but at the time I felt like I had just had a major epiphany. I could not stop thinking about how small my bed felt compared to other moments in my life.

When I was younger my father, older brother and I would all lay in the same exact bed and read the Harry Potter series. We fit with plenty of room to spare and I remember marveling about how huge my “big girl bed” was.  But now after lounging in my bed for practically a month straight, it felt impossibly small and lonely. I couldn’t help but long for a bunk at camp or the rickety bed I had left behind in my dorm room. 

As I was laying there–mulling through all of these feelings–it struck me that my childhood bed had not changed, but my perspective had.

As a six-year old my bed felt huge because I was  physically smaller. My father (with his 6 ft frame) probably had a different view of our nights reading together.

At camp and school the physical dimensions of my beds were smaller. Yet after long days of classes and camp activities, filled with laughter and friends, I never had an issue with falling asleep in these smaller spaces. By the end of each semester or summer these cave-like-bunks felt spacious and homey. 

And, Some of my most restful and relaxing nights have not even occurred in a bed. During our summer hikes and canoe trips, sleeping on the hard ground of a tent always provided me with all the comforts of home.

Thinking about the size of my childhood bed– and its contrast with all of the other spaces I had found comfort in– led me to a startling realization. Nothing about my bed may have physically changed, yet  all my negative feelings towards quarantine had caused me to adopt bad habits and a negative perception of my surroundings. My childhood bed had unconsciously become a prison of my own creation, slowly shrinking day by day.

But you know what, one of our most powerful tools as human beings is our ability to change how we perceive the world around us. That simple thought “my bed feels small” led me to adopt a new attitude and new habits. The next day, I did all my class work from my long buried desk, the day after that I began rediscovering the trails near my house and everyday since this experience, I have started my day by making my bed. With my new routine came an improved mindset and I began to focus on what I could control, rather than the uncertainty surrounding the future. 

As we enter phases of reopening remember the lessons–big and small– that you have learned from being in quarantine and take time to appreciate the experience we all once took for granted. Everyone has the power to create positive changes by simply taking the time to consider how we can shift our views and embrace new habits. It is okay to miss the spaces and the people you love, but take the time to embrace camps new slogan “more than a place.” The Kiniya spirit is not solely tied to the shores of lake Champlain or the camp bunks that we may miss. We can foster our camp community from any location. Sometimes it just takes a little shift in perspective.

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