In photography it is important to draw the eye of the observer through the composition, because this helps the brain to perceive a two dimensional image as more of a three dimensional space. One tool in the photographer’s arsenal for achieving this is leading lines. These compositional elements may be constructed from many things such as distinct architectural lines of buildings, the shape of the human form, or natural landscape features. In the above image, the line of the rock in the low right corner leads the eye into the frame, and from there it goes on to the next rock and the lines of the mountains in the distance. This movement gives the brain a satisfying illusion of depth.
The illusion exists only in the image though, because from where I was standing to take this image there was a vast amount of real depth. My mind needed no lines to lead it to this truth; those mountains were a long way off.
In a very real sense we live in a two dimensional space when it regards our place in time. In life we see each moment as it occurs, but the long view into the future is constructed of leading lines. Our sense of depth as we look into the future comes from following certain lines or possibilities and allowing our reason to build the resulting image. The same question then confronts us as it does the photographer; which lines do we chose and how do we compose them for the best image?
When I was standing by this lake, the decision was fairly simple because the outcome was just an aesthetically pleasing photo. When I stand at the beginning of each day the decisions are far more complex. This is the future.
The importance of critically thinking through the ‘composition’ of our future makes it a vital life skill. There are those who can impetuously careen forward through life and create something beautiful, but these are the exceptions. In photography there is an obvious difference between the shooters who are selling their work and those who have all their friends and family liking their photo posts. Those who work at it purposefully produce meaningful work. So too in life.
Every day affords a new opportunity to look at the composition differently, to recheck the angles; to see something new. The question becomes whether we are satisfied with the view we see ahead of us, and what we are willing to do about it. The other question is whether there is anyone who can truly see three dimensionally into the future, and what we would give to hear their perspective.