Perspective is tricky. It literally plays tricks on our minds. This is how artists can make it look like something is farther away than something else in the painting, or create parallel lines that appear to meet in the distance. They make us believe that a two-dimensional canvas has 3 D. Something also happens in reality to the light when it travels some distance, and that makes mountains look blue if you are far away. I think this happens because sunlight is bent and scattered in our atmosphere, and blue more than the other colours.
This made me think about the song From a Distance. Things doesn’t look the same if we get farther away, either we are talking about distance in miles or time. From a distance we may believe that we are created as equals, or that authorities just want to do what is in our best interest, or that difference of opinions or religion doesn’t matter, but in reality we are not able to deliver on that promise. Everything is so simple from a distance. I am frequently unable to make sense or be reasonable about something, but distance gives me a different perspective. That’s how I write as well. I often see solution the next day that I didn’t see early on.
I always encourage my 9 year old daughter to write, and during her Christmas holiday she wanted to write Putin a letter. Children like to pretend they are fighting, and nobody gets hurt. She suggested Putin did the same. That would have been quite a show. She’s attending a very international school for such a small town (the children have to learn Norwegian, but there are 24 other mother tongues), and some of them are from Russia and Ukraine. So of course they have been talking about what has been going on there.
I’m afraid simple logic doesn’t always work in the grown up world. I don’t understand much of human behaviour myself. I used the image of the Earth seen from the Moon in another post recently, and that made me think of how beautiful it looks like from up there, especially compared to a close up of the moon. That cratered rock looks nice too at night, but the story would be completely different if we could get close.
What about us? There is a lot of beauty among us, still. We have stunning national parks and we have created some good architecture. We have also some beautiful philosophies like democracy, Christianity and the idea that we can get along with everyone (also Muslims), but also oppression, polution, starvation. Our oceans look beautiful from a distance, but the truth of the matter is that they are dying. There is a lot of mercury in tuna for example. What about each individual heart?
Last time I used the photo of the Earth I speculated what aliens, if they exist at all, would think if they compared Earth from a distance to close up. In the song Bette Midler states that God is doing excactly that. He is watching us. If He only observed from a distance he’d see harmony, but I’m afraid we won’t get off with a long distance scan. Personally I was traumatized as a child after well meaning adults had been talking about how my heart would turn black and consume me if I did something wrong, like stealing and lying. I’m not sure that’s the right approach. I’m not a big fan of a Christianity that preaches a God that sees us as depraved, miserable pieces of shit that couldn’t possibly be worth saving. That seems to be the Jonathan Edwards or Jean Calvin way. I prefer the view of a God that watches us more like a loving father, but I have some issues relating to God in any form. I’m not exactly looking for a father.
I think the songwriter had her own personal life in mind when she wrote this, the struggles of making it as a songwriter in New York. I guess the song could mean anything, and different things to different people. I guess it makes me thing of what I hope God is, someone that wants me to be ok. The song has a beautiful message, as the Bible has. Living it is harder. Bette Midler made it really famous, but I think the country singer Nanci Griffith recorded it first. This video also shows pictures from a book based on the song: