See what I see: A heavy snow in Sioux Falls and limits in communicating experiences
T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see.
—Ophelia, Hamlet, Act III, Scene One
To have seen what I have seen…
One of the things that most often compels me to pick up a camera is the desire to share something I see. To let someone “see what I see.”
When it snows late at night, I like to look out our front windows at this street light. The snow falling past that light on a dark, quiet street is a hallmark of my experience of winter, but my family is usually asleep by then and I’m not usually up for pulling on a coat and walking out with a camera.
But on this particular night I made up my mind to go out and take this rough video. It’s not a remarkable video or a remarkable moment—it’s really fairly simple and mundane, but I’m glad to have that simple moment in a form that lets me share it.
See what I see.
I think this same impulse—the desire to share an experience with others—is what drives a lot of creative activity. We draw, or write, or take pictures, to share the thing that have in our mind with others. Like Ophelia lamenting Hamlet’s fallen state, we say, “In order for you to understand what I understand, you’ll have to see what I see.” And like her, we run into the same barrier—the reality that our experiences are imperfectly transferred to the people we most want to communicate them with. And if the people around us can’t “see what we see,” there’s a limit to what they can know of us, and what we can know of them.
The thing that compels me to learn how to use my tools better—my camera, my pen, my spoken and written words—is the desire to share what I see more clearly, and to be better understood. Like everyone else, I hope that as I communicate better, I will be known better and know the people around me better. I believe we were created to know and to be completely known, to love and be completely loved:
When the perfect comes, the partial will pass away… For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
Perfect communication between humans isn’t possible now, but better communication is a shadow of things to come.