On my son’s first visit to Ottawa after my move, we (he, my daughter, I) all went down to the rocks. John, the artist, was also there. We had a conversation about his rocks, and then the fun began.
Jeremy took photos of the rocks, and Caddy began leaping into the frame. John loved what he was seeing and brought out his camera. Some months later, we all shared our photos.
So here is one of Jeremy’s.
And here is one of John's.
Do you see the difference between the photos? Besides the poses and the rocks, what’s different is that
- in Jeremy’s photo, the rocks are in focus and Caddy is not,
- in John’s photo, Caddy is in focus and the rocks are not.
Unlike the human eye, the camera has to choose what to focus on: Jeremy (taking his sister for granted) chose the rocks! John (taking his rocks for granted) chose Caddy! (An interesting follow-up is that each guy preferred the other’s photo! Is that like wanting curly hair when yours is straight?)
This made me think about focus—the need to take nothing for granted, the need to focus on the forest (the big picture) and the trees (the details). We don’t have to choose (like a camera) but can do both (like the miraculous human eye).
When we knit, what are the details? All the little techniques we know, love, sometimes take for granted. (I have an ESSENTIAL SKILLS workshop in which we look at all of these, exploring choices and the reason for them. It's a much-loved class for a thinking knitter.)
When I teach, I want to teach both workshops, because the forest and the trees both matter! And when I knit, I need to keep both the big picture and the details in mind.
A quote I love but cannot attribute is The hardest practices to change are the ones we take for granted. In whatever we do, we should ask the question: what are we focusing on to the exclusion of something that matters equally . . . but that we are taking for granted?