Passenger Seat Perspectives

In photography classes, there’s often an assignment given called 10,000 angles. The objective of the assignment is to see how at how many different angles you can take a picture of an everyday object — turning something ordinary into something quite extraordinary based upon the perspective you look upon it.

Photography, much like any creative outlet, is highly dependent upon your perspective. It is up to the creator to take an active role as an artist. Through strategic structuring, and possibly editing of the their creation — narratives unfold in front of their very eyes, whether they intended to or not.

The beauty of narrative writing is the emphasis on how the story is told rather than what the story is about. Sure, we all love a good tale to be told. We like hearing of the underdog overcoming some massive obstacle, or the ugly duckling finding her prince charming; sports teams will live and die by buzzer-beater details, and tales of heartbreak almost involve some sort of “its not me — its you.” But are these the day-in, day-out stories that follow us throughout life? Are these the stories that capture our hearts in ways we’d never imagine?

“Dad, I need you to tell me something…”

Stuck on yet another assignment for my narrative writing class, I referred back to the same person who taught me calculus, skyped me before my econ-class to review calculations, and was there for every pep-talk when I actually wanted one in comparison to my mothers tough love.

“Do you remember when…?”

A permanent daddy’s girl from birth, my dad could never let me down. Any time I was upset about anything, from the specific shade of blue of the sky, to the people in the world that just “didn’t get it,” mom’s pep talks hardly ever worked. If anything, I would end up more in tears and frustration over her trying to tell me to get over it. Dad could solve all the greatest world’s mysteries — or at least point me in the right direction to do so myself.

“The purple elephant. When Grammy and I got in a fight?”

My dad and I have our own special bond, starting back from when we went for walks for jo-jo potatoes at lunch when I was a young child. That bond later blossomed over Saturday morning workouts, and the crepe breakfasts that followed. Following his steps in being a permanent morning person, he’d drive me to swim practice on Saturday mornings, even after I had gotten my license, and would go spinning for a few hours as I swam. The drive across town to the gym may have been only 4.5 miles in a small city town, but it was during this time that we shared all of life’s secrets.

“The one, of many times you decided to do your own thing?” He chuckled, almost as if he knew what I was up to, and told the tale. Complete with temper tantrums, and going to bat against his own mother to protect my right for creativity.

These rides to the gym meant more to me than he’ll probably ever know. Looking back as a senior college, the number of stories that can be pulled just from these car rides alone would give me writing material for years to come. There’s journal pages dedicated to these special car rides, some with more detail than others, but more than that — there are the lessons that have come with me beyond the pages of journals, narrative assignments, or car rides themselves.

“It’s not as bad as the time you punched a boy for kissing you — you and I were both in trouble for that…”

The narratives that have unfolded in the passenger seat of my dad’s truck, while they may not be special to anyone but me — are part of the beauty of storytelling. It’s so much more than wind passing over your vocal cords to make audible noises that can be deciphered as words in someone’s ear canal; conversations shape our lives.

“If you look at it one way, I was shaping your future — teaching you about consent. And don’t let your first grader get kissed in Catholic school.”

Life, like any predicament, all depends on the perspective. It’s a part of that whole “glass half full/half empty” conundrum we like to play. We may not all have buzzer beater stories or tear jerker tales — but we all have predicaments in our lives that have impacted us. And depending on our perspective that we look at these predicaments, and the relationships developed through them, a narrative may very well unfold in front of our eyes.

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