Yesterday, a couple of friends I’d been staying with for the week took me to a string of art galleries they scouted near their home in Oakland. One of our stops was to a gallery featuring paintings and sculpture work by Haitian artists, curated by an incredibly adorable French matriarch and her perceptually waspy daughter. All of the works in the gallery were described as naïve due to the work being produced by artists without formal training. One of the more-obvious characteristics beckoning this classification was the lack of perspective in the painted pieces.
In art, perspective is a term used to describe the degree to which the three-dimensional characteristics of an artwork reflect a subject’s actual appearance in reality. To have poor perspective, then, means a piece of art is lacking photorealism. As we stepped between canvases, the lack of perspective made me think about life and the importance of seeking out different perspectives on a regular basis.
Life, when viewed as a piece of art, can benefit greatly from change in perspective. Something as simple as leaving home for awhile—or getting caught up in conversation with folks from different walks of life—can help you to see other parts of your life that you forgot—or didn’t know—existed. When you live a certain way for extended periods, you start to identify that method of operation as “it” or the definitive normal. In changing your perspective, you realize that what you currently identify as the best way to live your life is just one of several options.
Perspective is at first temporary, but because it represents another angle of the same thing can be moved toward and made more permanent. An artist can paint the same subject twice but change the perspective to give the work a different feel. Similarly, we can do the same with life. A conversation I found myself in mid-week brought up the idea of the reset. Though we don’t often realize it, if we have the gumption to do it, at any time we can switch from one track to another. That transition may not be easy or immediate, but it is possible. It all comes down to making a choice, coupled with the patience necessary to go from here to there.
To identify the best path forward, get out of your element however you see fit. Make a point to observe what others identify as normal and how that plays into your own desires. It may turn out that what you see isn’t what you want, or you may find that it’s a much better painting than your first attempt. What matters most is creating the opportunities necessary to see things from a different angle. Who knows, you may find yourself contemplating parenthood while sitting across from a strange Russian woman sneakily eating latkes, wishing her partner of three years would “just propose already.”