Perception is the Key to Survival

Is the glass half empty or half full?

Okay, I hate that question, but I’m sure you all know what I’m getting at. Our outlook on life is so critical to how we live our lives. Sometimes its easier to look at everything that is wrong with our lives, and we tend to drown in our problems instead of embracing the joys of our lives. Most of the time we can get away with this, but in Pi’s case, it was a matter of life and death.

The first half of Life of Pi talking about Pi’s devotion to multiple religions, and you see how this contributes to the majority of his survival on the life raft. Pi is filled with such belief and hope that there is something greater that has control of his destiny, and that there was nothing more he could do than fight day to day. He saw everything around his as tools as opposed to threats and he was determined to live for his family, and live for God. And the important thing was that this was enough for him. He didn’t need any other bribe other that his love for life. To keep that kind of outlook in a situation so bleak is remarkable, and that is what makes Pi unique.

There is one really interesting part in the book when Pi comes the closer to death than he has ever been. He lies on the life boat and mentally gives up. And once that happened, you can see how close he actually gets to dying. He lost his will to fight, and I could understand that. Everyone gets tired of fighting, and sometimes you feel like there is nothing more you can do. And if there is something greater out there, they definitely saw Pi’s courage and devotion and gave him the second chance that he deserved.

Time get hard, situations get old and belief withers away. But if you can see past that, if you can open your eyes enough to look at your problems head on, then don’t be worried – everything will be okay.

Recipe For Defeating Fear

I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

Many of us have dreams about being fearless. Standing tall, and facing fear right in the eyes and defeating it with one swift motion. But in order to do this, we have to find the cause of the fear, accept it, and face the reality of it’s outcome. Finding what eats away at your strength is not always the easiest of tasks and it takes a whole lot of courage to do it. To me, Pi Patel represents what it’s like to look fear in the eyes and face it head on. And although he may never defeat it entirely, he has more courage then any of us may have found in ourselves.

Pi is placed in an environment where fear surrounds him: fear of death, fear of starvation, fear of Richard Parker, fear of the unknown and the fear of no way home. Throughout his journey, you see his struggle to stay alive. This struggle is not only cause by his surroundings, but rather his state of mind. Fear is a scary thing – it eats away at the pits of your stomach of anticipation of what’s to come. How does one handle something like that on such a huge level?

Step One – Coming To Terms

Pi spent his first couple weeks on the lifeboat endlessly looking out into the horizon waiting for a glimpse of rescue and never accepting his fear of being left alone in the middle of the ocean. Disappointment washed over his every time there was a false alarm, and I think it really wore down his spirit. Eventually he accepts that there is not going to be a rescue boat approaching any time soon, and once his accepts this fact he can determine what to do next. He can focus on survival and he realizes that he cannot survive on wishing alone. Pi might never come to terms with everything that happened, as you can tell at the end of the book, if indeed the story with Richard Parker was not the “real” story”, you can tell that in his heart, he hasn’t and probably never will come to terms.

Step Two – Taking Action

Pi decides that he is not going to be a helpless victim of a terrible disaster, but he’s gonna do everything he can to survive no matter what it takes! Throughout the book, Pi takes matters into his own hands and kills to feed and risk his life just to try and make his situation a little bit better. This is Pi fighting the fear, making sacrifices left, right and center to defeat this horrible beast.

Pi stood tall, held his head up high and decided to face the monster. And I don’t think it was the defeating that mattered, but rather the battle itself.

Just Believe

I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.

– Life of Pi, Yann Martel

By definition, Religion is “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects”. I find it very ironic how religion is a huge part of separation and discrimination in society, even unto this day. Most religions promote the idea of open hearted-ness and an unconditional love and respect for all that you share this world with, as well as the ground you step on. Yet people find ways to segregate themselves from others because the mechanics and minute details of their beliefs are not shared. But the whole point of religion is the BIGGER picture – why do you think people turn to religion in times of struggle and desperation? They need to believe that there is something else out there that can control their destinies more than they can themselves. We are told that our choices determine our outcomes; but even when we think we make all the right choices, things go wrong and we become weak. Not because we are pathetic people, or are too sensitive but we are rather confused. We don’t know why things happen sometimes and that scares us. Which leads to the whole idea of the fear of the unknown. Most of us are afraid of what we can’t see, and we are frightened by what our imaginations paint in our minds and set fire to fear in our hearts. But religion takes the unknown and turns it into a sort of safety net. As humans, we are so scared of what we don’t know, and are always trying to pursue these “truths” that we think contain the answers to all our problems. And during this  pursuit, we need something to keep us afloat. People need to believe that it’s not their fault for everything that happens, and that it’s okay not to be in control 24/7. People believe for the sake of believing. So why build up these indestructible walls around us and our beliefs, when ultimately, we’re all just trying to find our way. Sure, you may not believe in the same God, or practice the same rituals, or go to the same place to pray – but at the end of the day, we’re all human and we’re all in this together. We’re just trying to find our place in the world and accept what’s going on around us. And when this world gets just a little bit too hard to handle, we seek comfort in the arms of the unknown. We find it settling to know that we’re not alone and that maybe someone else can take hold of the handle bars just for a little bit. We crave understanding and explanation and when we can’t find that, we open our heart and our souls and just believe.  Because hope is our raft, and despite what it is made out of, without it we would all drown.

Photography In-depth Wrap Up

I can’t believe how close in-depth night is approaching! As it nears, photography has become less and less of something that I’m learning and it’s turning more into something I love to do. Here is all the information you’re going to need to keep up with the final weeks of my in-depth and my plan’s on presenting on in-depth night!

Learning Center:
What better way to display my work then making a mini gallery! It’s going to be very simple, no words (apart from the titles), just the pictures themselves. And of course I will be carrying around my camera all night, but instead of having a station where I take pictures of people, I wanted to be a “roaming” photographer. I’ll be walking around a part of the night taking pictures and capturing images of guests and presenters.

Where To Find My Pictures:

MY MAIN PHOTO BLOG: jbentsphotography

FLICKR ACCOUNT: jennaabentley

What I’ll Need:
Possible a couple tables to set up my gallery, that’s about it 🙂

As I had mentioned in a previous post, I said that I was going to be focused on macro photography, but as I was out trying to shoot, I kept having the desire to shoot more artistic shots, and getting wrapped up in the aesthetics the composition. I have decided to change my area of focus to fine art photography , which I am IN LOVE with 🙂 I love searching up photo blogs and those are the types of pictures that always catch my eye!

Life of Pi Ending Reflection

WARNING – If you have not finished reading Life of Pi, or plan to read it in the future, this contains major spoilers about the ending!

The first thing that comes up when you type in “Life of Pi” into Google is “Life of Pi True Ending” . I must admit that I too searched theories about ending the second I read the last page. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, the book is about a sixteen year old Indian boy who gets stuck on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal Tiger as his sole companion. After following the heart-wrenching events that they go through, they finally reach land where they part ways and they live happily ever after – or do they? Just when you think that everything had turned out just like you hoped it would, the book throws you a curve ball; Pi is interviewed by two Japanese men who want to learn more about the sinking of their ship, as Pi is the only survivor. The Japanese, who refuse to accept the story of his survival, demand that he tells them “true story with factual information”. Pi, quite frustrated at this point, tells them a different story. One more realistic, dealing with the vicious actions of humans as opposed to animals. Although they cringed, the Japanese accept this story with greater ease. As they begin to leave, Pi says something that has changed my entire view of the book. He says

I told you two stories that account for the 227 days in between. Neither explain the sinking of the Tsimtsum. Neither make a factual difference to you. You cannot prove which story is true and which is not. You must take my word for it. In both stories the ship sinks, my entire family dies, and I suffer. So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story?”

As a reader, you’ve already made up your mind that epic journey of survival with Richard Parker (the tiger) is the one that you want to believe; it’s the one that your heart is already set on. And although a reasonable explanation is that you have more information, and you have followed this first story from start to finish, I found it really interesting that in the story when the Japanese men are asked which on is the “better” story, they also prefer the story with the tiger – but why?

As Mr. Jackson had once said “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story” – The whole idea of a good story taking the place on the “facts” I think is very underrated. I think that this is derived from our desire to pursue the ultimate truth. Defining what’s real and what isn’t. Which leads me to the idea of perception, because to me life isn’t about what my eyes see, but about how my mind and heart processes those things; and art is how people present their ideas of the world around them in an attempt to explain them to others. What Pi went through was no doubt traumatic and life changing – so much to the point where he had to be able to process it however he could to move on with his life. I feel like Pi wanted to express his story in a way that people would understand his emotions as they were felt, and assuming that the story with the tiger was “fake”, I feel like Pi tried to depict his emotions throughout the experience in a genuine way, as opposed to having people getting caught up in the gory-ness and horrific events that happen in the “true” story.

This is Pi’s form of art – through storytelling, and this is how he processes the world. Some may call it childish, some may call it lying – but maybe we should begin calling it the truth.

Check Out My New Pictures!

I finally have been able to upload a bunch of pictures that I have been taking for my indepth! A lot of these aren’t macro because these were taken before I had chosen a specific type – macro photos are soon to come 🙂

Link to my Flickr Account (Where I will be posting all photos for my indepth!):

Here are a few of my favorites so far!

Part One: Toronto and Pondicherry – Meeting Pi

Before I began reading this book, I was told that the beginning was slow and seemed to drag on. I can now understand this after reading it, because part one has nothing to do with a boy stranded on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which is what the back cover claims the book is all about. However, after reading part one, I feel like i know who Piscene is and what he lives for. I got a sense that all these stories were going to be important in following and understanding Pi’s journey later on. Personally, I never found this boring, but rather enlightening. I have never been a very religious person, but Yann Martel has made me understand the beauty of religion.

Pi talks us through the wondrous worlds of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity which is rather confusing about 99% of the time. But it wasn’t the religion themselves that grabbed me, but rather the emotions Pi felt while practicing them. To hear a boy so innocent and open speak so proudly of what he believes in is enough to make you a believer, or at the very least understand it. My favorite part is when Pi is confronted by a priest, an imam and a pandit about practicing each of their religions. When they all demand Pi to chose a religion, he simply states “All religions are true – I just want to love God” I feel that line alone says a lot about Pi and who he is. To find a teenager so open-minded about life and isn’t afraid to show it is a rare thing. And at the same time, he causes you to question what you believe in and how open you are as a person.

In many ways, I wish I was more like Pi – so free and so full of knowledge. I wish I was certain of my beliefs and knew what I stood for – but I’m still trying to figure that out, and I suppose the majority of teenagers are doing the same. Pi is certain about who he is, and that is what makes him special.

A quote that I feel sums up this chapter:

“I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both”

Why I Chose “Life of Pi”

Our class was given an option to read a book, watch a movie or listen to an album for a “novel” study. Although my love for music might have been what I originally wanted to pursue in this project, I knew my heart was already set on reading a book. To me, there is nothing quite like flipping through the pages of a book and getting lost in a world that is nothing like your own. And then there was the decision of picking a book, which was actually a simpler task than I predicted. I chose “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel and here is why!

Life of Pi is a book about a 16 year old boy who gets stranded in the middle of the ocean with nothing for company except a variety of zoo animals, one of which is a Bengal tiger. Despite the obvious clues that this story is going to be a wild adventure, what attracted me to this novel was the emotional and mental process that the boy goes through; such as contemplating the likes of religion, survival and the indescribable bond between humans and animals.

After reading the first two chapters, I am already hooked – although the first few chapters are purely details on his past (and a clear indication that this will soon be a back story to something he encounters later on in the book), the detail is just incredible. If this is any sign of what lies ahead, I cannot wait to delve even deeper!

In-Depth Blog #5 & #6 !

Hey everyone, it’s been a while!

I thought I would just do one large blog post explaining how much I have done this past month on my in-depth photo with photography!

So I have finally pick an area of focus for this project – and it is macro photography!
Macro photography is the art of taking picture up-close and showing more detail that the human eye can usually see. I love the idea of the idea of seeing intricate details of something that you would not normally notice. Here are some beautiful examples of macro photography. From here on out, I will mainly be focusing on this type of photography and really try to discover neat and interesting things to capture.

During spring break and this week I have been taking a variety of picture to try and exercise my skills with the camera and discovering what works. I have been taking portraits, landscape pictures, architectural pictures and whatever seems to capture my interest. Unfortunatly I am unable to upload my photos today, as my dad has the camera, so my new pictures will be up in the next day or two, so stay tuned! (I’ll post a blog post as soon as they’re up!)

I have also been reading this digital book called Langford’s Starting Photography which has been an excellent guide to learning the basics and different techniques and there is also a section on macro photography that will help me! Mr. McElgunn has been great with teaching us about some of the key components of photography such as lighting, point of view and working within the frame. My father has been really great with showing me how to work the camera and a lot about the settings and lighting that is so crucial to capturing a great image.

Here is my game plan for the next couple weeks!
I will get back into the habit with consistently taking pictures for the Dailyshoot website to keep myself familiar with other types of photography. Every week I will do two major shoots; one indoor and one outdoor! I will focus on macro, and finding a variety of things to capture. I will go through them, find the ones that really stand out and begin creating a portfolio. This doesn’t mean I will only be shooting these days, I will take pictures whenever I see something that I think would make a good picture!

Stay tuned for my photos, I’ll be keeping you guys updated!

Industrial Advances Around the World Vs. CPR

The building and completion of the Canada Pacific Railway took place during the latter half of the Industrial Revolution, also known as the Technological Revolution. As the CPR consumed the minds of the majority of the British North America at the time, a lot of other industrial and technical revolutions were happening at the same time around the world. But what were they? Were their ideas about advancement the same as Canada’s?

I feel like although different countries were in the midst of improving different aspects of their lives, everyone appears to have the same common theme: improving communication between cities and other countries, therefor creating a great economy. Clearly this was the key to having a successful economy no matter where you were. So how does a nation go about doing this?

Not surprisingly, many went with the option of railways to expand their communication and transportation with their country. For example, when Belgium separated from the Netherlands in 1830, they created a simple cross-shaped system that link ports, mining areas, neighborhoods and of course the major cities. These were built over British lines, so although they received very little profit, it was  a necessity to drastically improve the economy. The whole concept of using a railway was not only a big success in Canada, but many parts of Europe. Also our neighbors in the United States did something very similar as well. In 1869 they opened the very First Transcontinental Railroad (also known as the Pacific Railroad) which became an iconic event as it stretched from the East Coast and San Francisco.

While many countries were focused on transportation, other countries such as Germany were focused on creating new products such as photographic film and dyes. Because the industrialized after Britain, they modeled a lot of their factories after Britain, making more efficient use of their capital. Along with this, they created the cartel system, which was a formal agreement between among competing businesses. This dealt with issues such as price fixing, market shares, allocation of customers and territories. This agreement helped manage conflict and competition between companies.

Comparing the different parts of the world at the same time really shows what it took back then to become a successful and powerful nations.