Archive for Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Life’s all about perspectives

February 16, 2000

It's funny how we look at life so often from the same direction. For instance, the other day, I drove to my parents' house, and instead of getting there from Pleasant Street as I usually do, I took the route from Delaware which meant going up Laughlin Street.

It surprised me to see that the slope of the hill was steeper than I had remembered, and I realized then that I had grown accustomed to seeing the hill from the top down, rather than from the bottom up.

It occurred to me then that much of life is like that. We get so used to following the same path every day, or to thinking that the best way to get to a place is from one direction. Sometimes, like me, now, we forget that if we change our route once in a while we might see something different or see the same thing, but from a different perspective.

This thought of taking a different direction and gaining a new perspective somehow reminded me of my journey into writing. I didn't begin, as many newspaper people do, by taking journalism classes in college. In fact, I never took a course in writing until I had been a newspaper editor for five years.

Thank goodness at the time I started writing, I didn't know what it was that I wasn't supposed to be able to do to write, to take photographs and to lay out a newspaper.

There were some technicalities I later realized that I had routinely missed in my early writing career such as hyphens, verb-subject agreement, compound adjectives. Also things about newspaper design for instance, that a headline should fill the horizontal space above the story, and that a new column must not begin with the last line, or heaven forbid, the last word of a paragraph, or in newspaper jargon, a widow.

Yes, there were many things I didn't know.

And many things I still don't know.

But my readers were forgiving and my publisher in the small town on the prairie was appreciative to have found someone willing to do the job, even if I did come with experience not included.

But experience can be a teacher in itself.

Nonetheless, by the time I did get to journalism school two and a half years ago, I began to realize how much I didn't know. It hit me hard to learn that all those years I had misused the phrases "Due to," and "Because of." I quickly learned that one never uses the word "over" to replace "more than." And I learned there were others like me some of them professionals in the field, some of them professors who also had come to journalism through the back door, and who had struggled, once upon a time, with things that others in their profession had been spoon-fed long ago.

And so today as I continue to see journalism from the perspective of having hit the ground running as well as from the perspective of the ivory tower looking down, I realize it doesn't really matter so much which direction whence we came rather, it's that in due time, if we're lucky, we arrive at the place we're supposed to be, and if we're luckier still, we realize it.

After all, oftentimes life is not so much a matter of direction, or of even which way we approach a hill, as it is a matter of perspective.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.