Perspectives on a missed opportunity

There is an old joke: optimists think that the glass is half full; pessimists say it is half empty; [software] engineers think the glass is the wrong size for the job in hand. The glass half empty/full idea is widely quoted to encapsulate people’s attitudes and I wonder who first coined it – if you know, please email or comment. Personally, I have doubts about the concept. For example, if I have a pint of beer and drink half of it, I feel a little mellow and look forward to drinking the rest and the having the opportunity to order [or, better, have someone else order] the next one. not pessimistic at all.

It is, however, interesting to consider how attitude and perspective affect various aspects of life …

My main hobby is photography. I shy away from the word “passion”, but the activity certainly has a much greater emotional content than anything that I do in my professional life. My interest is taking and looking at pictures. That would not be true for all photographers. For some, the fun is to be had in making pictures – setting up a scene or even constructing the picture on the computer. For others, it is all about having the latest gear – newest camera, longest lens etc. I sometimes wonder if these guys ever take any actual pictures.

Weather is an issue. Some people would never get out their camera unless there is a blue sky and sunshine. For me, even if that kind of weather makes me cheerful, I do not prefer it for photography – there is took much contrast and people squint in the sunlight. Mist or frost offers many more possibilities. Even rain has its attractions – though water and electronics are not a good mix. My late wife was very keen on photographing butterflies. She would prefer a reasonably bright, but not too warm day. Insects become steadily more energetic as the temperature rises, so they do not stick around to be photographed.

I have often heard photographers moaning that, even though the English countryside is beautiful, they can never find a place to stop and take a picture. Apart from suggesting that they get a bicycle, I have another view, which I developed when I used to drive to the office every morning and see spectacular sunrises. I believe that an experienced photographer has learned to look and see better than most non-photographers. They will see a picture in a place where many others just walk by. Because of this improved visual perception, we have the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful view [or sunrise, or whatever] that much more. I would rather celebrate that enjoyment, than mourn the missed photographic opportunity.

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  • Wonderful blog, Colin!

    It’s amazing what having a change of perspective can do for us in our hobbies, our works, our personal lives, and lives in general.

    Once I accepted that life is finite, but that I can (usually) find something positive in almost all situations, it greatly enhanced my quality of life.

    I can tell you that having traveling overseas can do wonders for one’s perspective and appreciation for what one has, as well.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/embedded-software/2011/03/10/perspectives-on-a-missed-opportunity/