Perspective

noun

  1. the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.
  2. a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

When I took today’s picture, I was staging images for use last Easter – Virtual Holy Week 1.0, if you will. I was thinking at the time that these things would be good reminders of that crazy, singular time that we were in. It was all new and scary; in the first weeks of the pandemic we were saying things like “well, if we are still doing this by Easter…”

And here we are, about to do it again.

The last two weeks have been difficult; for me and, I’m learning, for quite a few others. I’m chalking it up to emotional exhaustion; hitting that one year wall. I read an article the other day about how the 3/4 mark has proven to be the worst for people living through extreme situations, and that felt about right too.

Willis and I were talking this week about how things are going in his classroom; as a high school choir teacher he is now in the classroom 4 days a week, teaching concurrently to the handful of hybrid students in the room with him and the frequently faceless avatars in the google meet.

It’s awful, is how its going.

He was lamenting the very valid, career altering and emotionally devastating things that he and a lot of the fine arts teachers (all teachers, honestly) are facing right now. And as he was talking, he said something that really stuck with me: “I haven’t lost anyone to the virus, I know I shouldn’t complain, it isn’t that bad.”

I know that perspective is important, crucial even. But my (potentially unpopular) opinion is that over the last year we have nearly weaponized that concept. There have been very real consequences in the last year – very real traumas. There has been an absolutely horrific loss of life, yes, but there are many living in worlds they wouldn’t have chosen for their worst enemy a year ago.

Maybe rather than dismissing our sorrow as not being valid because our loss isn’t significant enough, the perspective we need is that maybe, in some ways, it is that bad. It is ok to look at ourselves in the (hopefully) last quarter of this trial and wish everything was entirely different.

Should we dwell in that? Of course not. But knowing that you have been wounded by circumstances far out of your control is the first part of being able to accept it, and eventually heal.

Looking back on this picture today, I am struck by the brightness of the image in the viewfinder compared to the rest of the room. It was very dark that evening, and with the right perspective the camera was able to use the window and the candles in a really beautiful way.

But it really was dark in the room, and if we hadn’t acknowledged that, we wouldn’t have known what to adjust to find the light.

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