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Perspectives

Updated: Sep 16

"Different perspectives broaden the imagination, stimulate curiosity and engender empathy."

Greetings from snowy New Jersey!

It’s beautiful here. The cold month of February gifted us with roughly thirty inches of snow (depending on location) and the ground, blanketed in white, looks creamsicle-orange in the late afternoon sun. I actually love snow. I don’t like driving in it, but when it snows, I’m like a little kid. I like to walk when it’s flurrying, and I don’t even mind shoveling the driveway. This is why I was deeply shaken when I heard the stories of three avalanche survivors on the morning news.


On the way to the grocery store I listened attentively, and caught myself, mouth gaping, staring, not at the road ahead, but at the imagined horror made vivid by each survivor’s tale. Avalanche speeds can reach up to 80 miles an hour in seconds, and one person experienced a whirlpool-like sensation as his body was pulled under feet of snow. Another person was buried upside-down in pitch blackness unable to move his limbs. By the time I finished my morning errands, I was terrified. It was a miracle these people survived!

Once I calmed down, I was struck by the different perspectives battling in my imagination—how something so beautiful could become so monstrous. I'd seen avalanches on TV, of course, but never thought about what it would be like to be buried by snow. One skier described it as "entombed," which sent shivers down my spine. To say the least, viewing a situation from a different angle broadens the imagination, stimulates curiosity and engenders empathy.


This practice is so valuable for writers. Looking at a scene or a character from a different perspective can help bring depth to that scene or character and help flesh out the story. Example: Think of something good a villain has done in his or her lifetime. He wasn’t always a villain, was he? Did he love someone before he became a villain? Is he still in love? Try and imagine the broader picture of his or her life. If it helps, write a detailed paragraph about this character as a teenager.


The avalanche survivor stories challenged my romantic view of snow. Even though I’m back to loving the expanse of white outside my living room window, the view is tempered with an awareness of its potential power.


Read or listen to Avalanche Survivors Recount Their Experiences on NPR.


Thanks so much for dropping by my site. Happy writing and reading!


Jan

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