Perspective in life is nearly everything. Today I read an amazing article written by a man who is dying (probably in 6-24 months) from incurable prostate cancer. The title of the article was a shocker: “The Mercy of Sickness Before Death”. I have to say that it was a much different perspective about cancer and being sick before dying than you typically hear or read. It was thought-provoking, to say the least.
Is something good or bad? And what makes it that way? We tend to think only in terms of immediacies, and how we feel about something right that moment. It’s totally understandable – I do it all the time myself. I’m judging a certain event or happening based on what I can see and know at the time (and if we are honest enough to admit it, our human “vision” of thy whys, wherefores and becauses are skewed and limited.) I don’t intend to diminish anyone’s grief or fear or suffering with this…but I think what I’ve written is true. What we may think today is a bad thing, may actually turn out to be a good thing a few days, months or years from now. We aren’t guaranteed that we’ll feel that way about it, but it’s happened enough to me that I think it’s true more often than not.
On a much simpler note, photography and images are a lot about perspective, too. We easily settle into a full-length shot of someone or something. One piece of advice that I read once that improves photographs is this: fill the viewfinder with your subject. Leaving a lot of other things in the image only distracts and deflects from the main subject. If you feel you simply can’t do that, at least throw the background out of balance with a wide-open F-stop setting so the eye is naturally drawn to the subject you want to emphasize.
Today is another photo of the statue in Jack London Square that I posted about the other day. Personally, I think this is a much more interesting photo. There is much more majesty, motion, and mystery to it. What is happening? Where is the eagle going? What is the hand reaching for or pointing towards? What does the person look like to whom the hand is attached?
Majesty, motion and mystery. Sorta sounds like life, doesn’t it?!!!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1865, Union war hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was severely wounded at Petersburg, Virginia, while leading an attack on a Confederate position. Chamberlain, a college professor from Maine (we toured his home when we lived in Maine – what a treat! – and visited his gravesite, too), took a sabbatical to enlist in the Union army. As commander of the 20th Maine, he earned distinction at the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, when he shored up the Union left flank and helped save Little Round Top for the Federals. His bold counterattack against the Confederates earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. (See the movie GETTYSBURG!)
His wound at Petersburg was the most serious of the six he received during the war. Doctors in the field hospital pronounced his injury fatal, and Union General Ulysses S. Grant promoted him to brigadier general as a tribute to his service and bravery. Miraculously, he survived and spent the rest of the Petersburg campaign convalescing at his Maine home. He returned to the Army of the Potomac in time for Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, and he was given the honor of accepting the arms of the Confederate infantry.
Chamberlain returned to Maine after the war and served four terms as governor. He then became president of Bowdoin College–the institution that had refused to release him for military service–and held the position until 1883. Chamberlain remained active in veterans’ affairs and, like many soldiers, attended regimental reunions and kept alive the camaraderie created during the war. He was present for the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg in 1913, one year before he died of an infection from the wound he suffered on this day so long ago at Petersburg.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The word “dream” is most likely related to the West Germanic draugmus, (meaning deception, illusion, or phantom) or from the Old Norse draugr (ghost, apparition) or the Sanskrit druh(seek to harm or injure).