Forest Avenue with Glasses on

So Lifelongnewyorker was feeling very pleased with herself about Forest Avenue-plowed.

First of all, she made the decision to acquire it and surprise Mr. NewYorker. Then, having gotten it on the wall, she promptly wrote about it.  She uploaded the photo, checked spelling and hit publish.

Upstairs, Mr. NewYorker got a ping on his email and saw a new blog from Changing Accents.  In about 10 minutes he came down to set the record straight.

“It’s not the morning. What makes you think it’s the morning?” he asked.

Discussion ensued, with barely suppressed eye-rolling on each side.  Because, I pointed out, the sun rises in the east.  Over Grymes Hill.  And that, I pointed to the end of the road, is the east. 

“No,” he responded, “that’s the west.  It’s the sun setting.”

What?! I arose and hurried over to the painting. In an instant I saw he was right — I’d been seeing it completely wrong, imagining that the perspective was from someone looking east, with Silver Lake Park on the right.  The road curves were wrong, I had known — that’s why I had wondered about the perspective.  But now, the scales taken from my eyes, I could clearly see this was from the perspective of Randall Avenue, looking west up Forest, with the Temple on the right.

In some ways, it changes nothing.  It’s still after the storm.  It’s still a car following the sun — and this time going west, which is the direction in which we traveled when we set out to Alabama.  And it still has a bus stop I used, once I realized that it was easier to walk downhill than up.  Oh, and it’s even closer to the house.  But still.

To make it worse, Mr. NewYorker pointed to a small figure in the lower right hand of the canvas.  “And that,” he said, “is me, going to buy some milk after having spent six hours shoveling snow.”

But why did my brain insist on seeing it from the other direction, even though I knew some things were wrong?  The curve was wrong.  There was no bus stop sign where it should be? 

I suspect it’s because I drove up Forest Avenue, toward the sun, every morning for over 20 years.  When I was teaching, I drove to Victory and then took a right uphill onto Louis Street and was blinded by the sun, especially in the winter. I always prayed that no one was jay-walking ahead of me.

It’s actually commonplace,  what happened.  We know what we know–or think we know–and we interpret new information with a slew of past memories, assumptions and experiences in place.  It makes it hard to see anything from a different perspective.  My work is all about this, and yet here I succumbed myself.  What a great tale.

With a moral at the end, supplied by Mr. NewYorker:

“Maybe, before you  post a new blog, you should send it to me for fact-checking.”

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2 Responses

  1. Great POV lesson for my AP students!

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