Sometimes the most obvious things escape a person. All the clues can be right there and all it takes is putting them together, without much effort or thought, and there they are.
Like this picture of my Dad.
I always assumed this was a shot of him either miming hugging the person taking the picture (most likely my Mom), or perhaps spreading his arm in welcome to their campsite (I'd also assumed this was taken up at Opeepeesway Lake, a fishing spot off Highway 144 in Northern Ontario near Timmins), as if to say "This is my campsite, but treat it like your home, everyone is welcome."
But yesterday I found out it wasn't that at all.
Yesterday, when my mom was looking at the picture (I was showing her the "Good Men Project" details I'd mentioned on my blog the other day) she smiled and immediately said: "Ah. The one that got away!"
The one that got away.
My Dad, in the picture, was miming "the one that got away" -- of course he was. Who knew my Dad better than my Mom? She was right on. Of course, she was also the person who took the picture, so she also brought with her the memory of what he'd been doing when the picture was taken. It was taken where I'd thought, but the "intent" of my Dad's pose was different than I'd thought until my Mom shed the proper light on it.
With my Dad being the most avid fisherman I'd ever known, it should have been the first thing I thought of. It was always about telling fishing tales, always about the one that got away. Even the basis of the novel Morning Son which I wrote in honour of my Dad, was all about a son trying to decipher his father's secret fishing mysteries. The whole novel is a quest surrounding a life of secret fishing holes. It was always about the fishing.
So how did I miss that?
Likely because I overlooked the obvious things right in front of me and, instead, implanted my own perspective on the picture, rather than looking at it the way it really was.
How many times in each day do we do that when in conversation with others, when looking at the world around us? How many times, instead of seeing it for the way it is, we see it in a specifically translated way, tinted by the things going on in our own minds?
I got the answer by listening to my Mom. By actually listening. Simple as that. So, how many times in our daily communications do those little things a person meant to express to us "get away" because we didn't do the simple thing like listen, or look, without applying our own interpretations?
I'm willing to bet that sometimes the "big ones" get away and we're lucky enough to realize it or pick up on them later, but more often than not, there are plenty of "little ones" that got away from us that we'll never ever realize.