Ahead, Behind, Above, Beside

I am reminded again this morning as I watch the Tour de Yorkshire and sip an espresso (from a mug that Shelagh brought home from Toronto as a gift for me 30 years ago or so) how delicious is the deception of the camera. 

A televised professional bicycle race is typically enjoyed from four points of view. Left to right in the pic below, they are, quite obviously, the views from ahead, behind, above, and beside.

Ahead, behind, above, beside

What they share in common is their own movement. Again, quite obviously, the cameras themselves, whether attached to pace cars, motorcycles or helicopters, are in motion. The spectator at the actual race does not share these views. For him, for her, for them, for all those rooted ones who line the roads, the race is experienced not as a switch between shots but, rather, as a swoosh of a shot going by and, then, gone.

That swoosh is how I remember the peleton flying past as I stood on Fort Road last year (the elementary school I went to  ust a few blocks north on 66 St., but 40 years south ) during the Tour of Alberta's stage visit through my old neighbourhood.

That swoosh is how I remember Karen Percy flashing by as Shelagh and I stood on a mountainside in the Rockies during the Calgary Olympics back in 1988. We had hiked up and up and watched the dots of the racers coming closer to us before disappearing just as quickly down the hill. I remember thinking, well, that was lame!

Of course, that point of view is fairly accurate to one sense of the truth of things, to that sense of our own lives going by. As we live and watch ourselves in our minute-to-minute lives, we acquire the great comfort of being the director who calls ahead! And now behind! Take the shot from above! Now take the moving shot beside! But we are also prone to those moments when we are less director than viewer, when it all seems to be flying by so fast, this colourful ribbon of our lives.

I believe that both views are real, or, at least, equally deceptive. And that they can correct each other. When life offers a seemingly endless selection of shots, memento mori. And when life seems to be something you watch go by, get on the saddle and watch it go from there.



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