Seeing the Same but Different

Diligentia I
2013

I was hanging out with a couple art friends one night last October, and I mentioned (as an aside to our conversation) that “I know a lot of doctors because you know, I’m Asian.” To which one of them replied “You’re talking to a couple Jews here Johnny.”

It’s amazing how our perception of things changes with time. We can look at the exact same picture, and see and feel something completely different depending on our circumstances.

When I initially finished Diligentia, I hated it. I felt like it lacked all the technical hallmarks that made a successful World of One entry. Over the years however, that’s precisely what I like so much about it. It stands out and is unique for the simple reason that it looks different from all the other images in the series.

I named this piece Diligentia (the latin word for perseverance), because at the time I had just moved to New York, and was uncertain how that would play out. To be honest, the technical aspects of this composition came first. I wanted to make something with what I like to call a yin-yang composition. I just so happened to shoot it so that the figure in white is walking towards the shadow. Afterwards I came up with the story that he is walking towards fear and the unknown, while the others are walking away.

Over the course of the past two weeks I’ve started to see this image a little differently. Locked away in our homes, for fear of spreading the pandemic further. We’re all rightfully scared, and terrified. This disease robs us of the ability to hold our loved ones, and in the really severe cases, condemns people to a slow and lonely death. 

I have a lot of friends in healthcare, friends I care deeply about. Some are stuck here away from their families, and others have families of their own they’re afraid to see. They’re all scared too. As would anybody be, who is expected to work a dangerous number of hours, right on the frontlines without proper protective equipment. But they will still go. Because they are the good ones, and because it’s their duty. I’m reminded that only when we’re afraid, do we have the chance to be brave.

Today when I look at this picture, I think about my friends, crewmates, drinking buddies and acquaintances I know in healthcare. I think about the iconic long white coats of doctors and it makes me realize, it’s not a mistake that the figure in the white jacket is walking towards the darkness.

Reach out today, and give our healthcare workers some love. Let them know you appreciate them and the work they do, that they are brave in a situation where we can’t be. If you can, donate to the CDC to help make up for their slashed budget. And most importantly, stay the fuck home.

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