Walking through my school on the way to teach a high school class last week, I passed a few elementary students pottering around in the grass. I smiled at them in greeting. We don't often get little folk on our side of the campus.
One boy stepped off the grass towards me. "Hi! Want to know what we're doing?"
Of course I did!
"We're taking pictures from a worm's eye view. We just learned about it in Art class. There's bird's eye view," he explained as he reached up and pointed downwards, "and worm's eye view." Now his hand was on the pavement, pointing up. "That's what we're looking for over there in the garden. See you!"
I was happy for that short lesson in perspective. It reminded me not only to take the time to chat with people and ask about what they are doing, but also to look through different lenses, whether creatively or in my personal life.
The Bird's Eye View
I often get lost in the details of an immediate problem, and feel it looming over me. The more it is in my mental gaze, the more overwhelmed and intimidated I feel. It doesn't help that I can get obsessive over tiny details. Going for a walk and literally looking at the sky and the horizon (the sea, if possible!), really helps to reset my frame of mind. Then I come back to it and decide to get one step done. If I have a huge stack of papers to mark, I grade a few, and then it doesn't seem so bad.
The Worm's Eye View
Getting a worm's eye view as a photographer is a way to stop and mindfully observe your surroundings from a completely different angle. Where I live there are huge palms, and if you looked straight up into the bunches of dry fronds that hang down under the green leaves, you might see bats sleeping, or monitor lizards several feet long hiding from the world, since they are invisible from the side and from above. I only noticed this because I once saw a lizard run up the tree, and decided to go over and take a look from the base. Yep, he was still up there. I need to do that figuratively but not allowing myself to be consumed in the daily rush of things I feel I must do. This journal is a way to carve out time for a worm's eye view.
This is my favourite poem about perspective:
I can imagine, in some otherworld
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.
Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of Matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast, succulent stems.
I believe there were no flowers, then,
In the world where the humming-bird flashed ahead of creation.
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with his long beak.
Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.
We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time,
Luckily for us.