A visual artist would tell you that on a two-dimensional surface, the vanishing point is where receding parallel lines viewed in perspective appear to converge. Moreover, that same artist would also know that diagonal lines extending outward from the vanishing point serve to create an artificial horizon, enabling that artist to create realistic angles. But I’m no artist. To me, a vanishing point is where someone or something simply disappears.
Like time. I’m always stunned about how time vanishes. I think I have time to spare, but then—Poof!—it has vanished into thin air and I’m late. Or like money. Money also has a way of vanishing, especially around the end of the month or when the porch needs a new roof. Here today; vanished tomorrow.
What else vanishes? As I often do when I’m musing about something, I asked the wee wife if she thought youth vanishes. She looked at me, as she often does when I’m in the musing mode, as though I were crazy. “Of course, it doesn’t,” she scoffed, “you’re still young at heart, aren’t you?” A kind thought, perhaps, but nevertheless, my knees crack whenever I stand and it’s getting to be quite a chore to put my socks on. I don’t bend like I used to. Trust me: flexibility vanishes.
When it comes to vanishing, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s perfectly acceptable—even desirable—for some things to take flight. Like the current occupant of the White House, for example. I wish he’d hurry up and vanish along with the others of his ilk. Bye-bye. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. See ya.
“Stop writing about politics,” she says. “People are tired of reading about politics. Stick to lighter fare, the things you know, simple stuff.” Simple stuff? I just looked at her.
She’s right, of course, but then I got to thinking about that nasty little virus that not only refuses to vanish, but now looms even larger than it did back in the spring. I wish someone could make that vanish—a drug company, Dr. Fauci, my magician friend, anyone? Please just make Covid-19 vanish!
So what else reaches and then passes over the vanishing point? One of Bryson DeChambeau’s tee shots usually vanishes beyond the horizon…except at this year’s Masters tournament when one got lost in the mud. In years past, Thanksgiving dinner would vanish in a flash, but this year, who knows if we’ll even have one. Down in the Amazon rain forest, too many wondrous species have vanished—more’s the pity!—while up in space, a black hole has a way of making everything disappear; even light vanishes in the super gravity of a black hole. Think about that! Simple stuff: HA!
“Does love ever vanish?” I asked myself. (No way was I going to pose that question to you-know-who!) “No,” I heard myself answer. “When all else is said and done and vanished, love remains.”
I’m not sure who was the first master to render the vanishing point on canvas. As impressive as cave art is, it’s still flat. But creating three dimensions out of two? Surely that was worthy of a Renaissance. Perspective takes time; I know this because I have more of it today than I had yesterday, let alone fifty or sixty years ago. I also know this: as the parallel lines of my life continue to converge, I’ll wonder all the more about what lies beyond my own vanishing point. Don’t worry; I’ll figure out a way to let you know.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer who lives in Chestertown. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine. Two collections of his essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”) are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com