"People who wonder whether the glass is
half empty or half full miss the point.
The glass is refillable."
This quote popped up in my Instagram feed recently. I've no idea who came up with it originally but it got me thinking about the reductive practice of labeling and classifying. Am I an optimist (glass half full) or am I a pessimist (glass half empty)?
A dichotomy is a representation that contrasts two things as being entirely different and opposed to each other. It's an interpretation that simplifies complexity, offering two choices - and only two - as to how those things may be viewed.
Is the glass half empty or half full? Does it matter? The glass can be refilled.
Reducing complexity can seem to make life more comfortable but it's not a helpful, or an accurate, representation. We miss out on things when we do this.
Life can be messy and embracing complexity isn't something I always find easy to do. But lately I've realized that one place I can easily embrace complexity is in my photography. I like playing with the edges, the gradients, between the stark contrasts of "light" and "dark". As I look more closely at these images, that stark contrast disappears. I'm able to realize that the relationship between "light" and "dark" is much more nuanced, much more complex, than I first perceived it to be.
Working with images like these helps me remember that, by reducing life to simple choices such as "light" or "dark", I'm missing the point. In the end, there are many shades in between. And, in the end, it's much more important to realize that there is beauty to be found when I learn to embrace the richness of life's complexity.
© Karen Opp James. All rights reserved.