Recently I was reminded of the benefits of entertaining different perspectives.
As I’ve indicated in previous posts, my art and photography often teach me lessons that apply to life in general. Two weeks ago, a trip to Venice with my sister and brother-in-law taught me, yet again, that life is a matter of perspective.
I’d been anxious to take my new Canon 300mm f2.8 lens out for a spin, so I lugged it along (it’s cumbersome). This would be the first time I would be experiencing Venice through such a different lens. In the late afternoon, we made our way to the roof-top terrace of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, which is a super-upscale department store just steps away from the Rialto Bridge. The terrace has become a hot spot (reservations are best made via the website above) since it offers perhaps the most breathtaking, panoramic views of Venice. Having entertained visitors on multiple occasions, this wasn’t my first trip to the terrace. How might it be different this time vs. something rote?
A new lens changes everything.
I mounted my big lens to my camera, and said to myself, “It’s a matter of perspective. Let’s see what happens when I change my vantage point?.” At first, I was overwhelmed by the sea of activity around me, since the Rialto Bridge is a tourist magnet. Where would I look? How could I find something I’d normally overlook? Then I let my lens guide me deeper into my surroundings, and the numerous vignettes within the bigger picture began to emerge. I started snapping away. I was particularly thrilled with the scenario above.
Later, when we had left the terrace and were descending the stairs, I shared the image with my sister, who also had been clicking away with her camera. She exclaimed, “I didn’t see that! How did I miss it?”
In life, how much do I miss by stubbornly attaching myself to a fixed perspective?
Not being able to look at the world around us with fresh eyes or a different point of view can be a sure-fire creativity killer. Life can end up looking one-dimensional and full of sameness. Such sameness may give people comfort. It may even be sought out for a sense of safety and familiarity.
I remember my first drawing teacher in college. The assignment was pretty simple: do a large pencil drawing of a still life of an onion, a bell pepper, and a potato. I plopped the grouping in the middle of the composition and proceeded to start filling in the details. My instructor came strolling by and paused. I don’t remember his exact words, but he tactfully told me I was sticking to the safe, expected and boring route. Might I change my perspective and zoom in to create more interest? I realized that my first attempt had been pure crap. The second attempt, following his instruction, resulted in an intriguing and dynamic rendition of three ordinary vegetables.
This forever changed how I approached my art, and I dare say I’m a better artist today because I was graced by a mentor who challenged me to keep altering my perspective and, even when I think I’ve landed on the final perspective, to shift again for comparison.
Solutions to problems? They are usually a matter of perspective.
How many times have I been stymied by a seemingly insurmountable problem after looking at it only one way? Plenty. I’ve certainly banged my head up against the wall enough times in life insisting there was only one perspective on the path to finding a solution. It was only when I was willing to adopt a new lens that I saw other possibilities and solutions presented themselves.
This blog is all about perspective.
I don’t suggest that my experiences or my perspectives should be universal. At times, I overly edit myself when sharing my point of view, not wanting to upset my audience or ruffle feathers. But, my lens, my life in Italy are just one person’s experiences, and they probably differ dramatically from many other people’s experiences. I hope I don’t come across as proclaiming my perspectives as right and other people’s as wrong. Life just isn’t that cut and dry.
Life is full of paradox, and I believe we swim in a sea of grey rather than black and white. I believe life can be richer when we’re willing to be open to other perspectives. That God my art continues to lead the way in this regard!