Ettie Newlands

Looking at the periphery, an artist told me the other day, is what brings perspective.

A work of art has a focal point, and everything else is abstract, he said.

But it’s those abstractions that help create the contrast and give depth to the focal point.

My mind wandered as he explained this, and I thought about the people, the problems, and the people with problems that we deal with.

I’m sometimes guilty of not seeing the periphery.

Looking so hard at the focal point, the problem, or the person with the problem, keeps me from seeing what’s on the fringes of that situation.

I forget to look at why he did what he did. Why she said what she said. What made it escalate to where it is.

I think, all too often, about how the problem or the person impacts me and mine.

I forget to give the benefit of the doubt.

To remember that in different circumstances, that could be me.

To remember that there is rarely enough information to make a judgment.

I forget to look at the periphery, but that’s where the details are that make the focus what it is.

I need to pay more attention to the abstract, the things people may be feeling as much as what they’re saying.

The things people may be thinking, as much as what they’re doing.

We can all look one way while being very much another way.

Sometimes we need someone to read between the solid lines people draw and see the undefined, but very present squiggles.

I’m going to try to outline the periphery and bring that into focus also.

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