Prairie Pasture, 1966 photograph by Raymond W. Stilborn

I live on the prairie. I grew up here. The vastness of the prairie gives me a sense of freedom and possibility.

Not everyone sees that vastness in the same way. Many people driving through our province think the prairie is just one boring stretch of nothing. I can understand that viewpoint, although I don’t agree with it.

There is much to see in that vast stretch that seems to be nothing. But as my mother used to say, on the prairie you have to look for the beauty. Unlike in the mountains, beauty doesn’t just hit you in the face. You have to be open and alert and willing to look closely.

The viewpoint that there’s nothing to see can be changed if you change your vantage point from standing back to getting close and really looking.

In fact, if you look closely and adjust your viewpoint and vantage point, you will see that there’s a ring-necked pheasant in that picture of prairie grasses above. You have to look for the beauty.

Sometimes our lives get like that apparently boring highway through the vast nothing.

Sometimes the vista in front of us is a dark and frightening one. That can happen in our personal life as well as in the life of our society.

It has helped me, in such situations, to change my vantage point — where I’m looking from — and to refine my viewpoint — what I’m looking at, and how I’m looking at it. It has helped to look for the beauty, wherever it is to be found.

It might be in a smile that brightens up a tedious day. It might be the squeeze of another’s hand as you stand together and face whatever darkness lies ahead. It might be a story you read on social media, or a snippet of music you hear, or a flower blooming out of a crack in the sidewalk.

It may be in changing the vantage point from standing back and watching what’s happening to getting closer, getting involved, seeing the people around you who are beauty personified.

I’ve just started reading Angie Thomas’ powerful book The Hate U Give. It’s certainly giving me a close look into a life that is far from the one I live day to day. It’s changing both my vantage point and my viewing point. And while it’s showing me the darkness, it’s also showing me the glimmers of light and life and love and hope.

Books are like that. Whether we’re reading or writing them, they can give us a whole new way of seeing, a whole new vision.

These days, we really need to look for the beauty, and for the glimmers of light and life and love and hope. We need to have a vision that can carry us through whatever lies ahead.

 

V. It’s for Vistas and Vastness. It’s for Vantage points and Viewing points, Viewpoint and Points of View. And it’s for Vision.

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