“Unfortunately, in many cases, the rule book goes way too far – it tries to tell people how to be instead of explaining what we’re trying to do. We need recipes, not rules.” ― Howard Behar, It’s Not About the Coffee: Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks
[one_half padding=”4px 10px 0 4px”]I am far from being the most graceful person on the planet. I’ve fallen in front of presidents. I’ve tripped over red carpets. If there’s a cup of coffee near a white table cloth, I’ve spilled it. When I was young, my mother used to say I was like a bull in a china shop, which is why we never visited any china shops or anywhere else that tended to have a lot of glass. For myself and a lot of other people I know, that thing in our inner ear that keeps us level and helps us establish equilibrium doesn’t always work as well as it should. As a result, we go blundering through life, being especially careful when required to handle anything sharp or otherwise potentially dangerous.
What I’ve learned from my somewhat lop-sided life, though, is that being slightly off center, looking at life on somewhat of a tilt, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Not every measure we take can or should be balanced because there simply isn’t enough detail or information or content to support the balance that everyone seems to think is necessary. Even a ship can have a bit of a list and still manage to sail its way into port safely. Being unbalanced isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is quite different.
The rule broken in today’s picture is that of balance, but it’s one where the circumstances create such strong leading lines that we might not notice at first just how uneven the image is. Note that there are two models. Ideally, each would be given an equal amount of space. They needn’t occupy the space in the same manner or even the same general position, but the space should be available to them. In this image, though, the model on the left is limited to the left third of the image. The panel trim on the wall behind her creates a very strong visual barrier that, at least as far as our eyes are concerned, holds her to that side of the space.[/one_half]
[one_half_last padding=”4px 4px 0 10px”]However, one might also notice that the entire frame is a bit askew. The lines are not parallel with the horizon; they’re not even close. Our entire perspective of the scene is thrown off balance by the angle from which the image was taken. The uniqueness of the angle ends up being a strength that allows the unintentional division between the models to exist without making us want to move one of them.
Not that we had much choice. The picture is taken in an elevator built sometime in the 1920s. This is one of those small, residential elevators where one has to manually close the gate, then close the door, before engaging the lift. If the models appear uneven and off balance, it’s because the only way to get the shot was by lying on the floor, having someone out-of-frame hold open the gate, and praying that no one in the building would need the elevator before we got the shots taken.
Metaphors for life, anyone? There are some things that claim to be fair and balanced and intentionally are not; their claim to equality is an attempt to mask just how one-sided their view actually is. Other times, we look at something that appears to be off-center only to discover that our eyes deceive us because of the limitations of our perspective or the specific angle from which we view the situation. What we learn with experience, hopefully, is that balance is precarious and not always something that is even possible. Returning to the ship metaphor, even the largest aircraft carrier moves back and forth along the waves; sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left. That ability shift weight from one side to the other is critical to preventing the vessel from capsizing.
Balance is something our eyes like to see, but what appears to be is not always true.[/one_half_last]