What does this picture say to you?

I have asked a few people about this picture and it has been described in different ways. Some talked about the “physical properties” of the picture (for example, it’s a trike outside a house,” others talked about the trike, for others the photo provoked their own memories or caused them to project stories onto the image. It was interesting to see how thoughts changed as they examined the photograph more carefully.

Some people saw the image as sad: a trike chained so it can’t be played with. Others saw it as full of love: a trike chained so it wouldn’t be stolen. Some noticed straightaway that there was a broken rear wheel, missing handlebar tassel and possible missing pedal; others took a little while. All agreed that the wheels seem to be somewhat bent, the handlebars rusting (one missing a tassel), the paint work is generally in a good state with the seat saddle looking pristine and the owner’s name clearly written on the wheel.

What do you see when you look at it?
A story?
A memory?
A metaphor?

For me, this photo conjures up an image of a much loved trike, racing around corners, coming close to knocking people over whilst a friend rides on the steps on the back clinging onto the driver whilst squealing in delight at the race.

I noticed the wonkiness of the wheels. Perhaps there was a tumble: cut knees and grazed elbows, shock and tears. Then, more tears as the realisation dawns that the beloved trike is damaged. I wondered if the owner was fearful of how their carers’ might respond to the carnage of damaged trike and hurt people. Perhaps they had already been warned not to go too fast? Perhaps they had been sent to on an errand and were later home than agreed?

The trike is very securely secured to a post of some sort. Very securely! A heavy duty chain with an even heavier duty padlock. The message is sent, “I am off limits, leave me alone!”

On the post itself, there is a huge plaster… the kind that you stick over a cut knee. I wonder whether it is there as an assurance to the trike’s owner that just as their wounds are being tended to, their trike will not be forgotten either and is being kept safe until it is time to look at it.

I may be a soppy over thinker but I think there is a metaphor for life here.

Life can be fun, racing round, carrying friends, friends carrying you. Sometimes it gets a little scary as you round a corner too quickly. Sometimes you make an error of judgement and don’t stop quickly to avoid collision or stop too early before the finish line and not reaping your rewards. Other times, life plain gets in the way and you hit a pothole which send you flying.

It is important to surround ourselves with people who can help us put ourselves back together again, giving us the TLC we need so we can get back on the bike. Perhaps, it is not just you but your trike that needs attention? Perhaps you need to stop and check your brakes and that your wheels are on straight so that you can get the most out of life. Perhaps too, we don’t need to spend too much time worrying about the aesthetics of life… do unpolished handlebars really matter when you are doing what you need to do, playing (taking account of others) and having fun at the same time.

When you see a snap shot in time of life, what assumptions do you make about it? Is it really representative of what it appears to encapsulate. Photographs lie but can also tell the truth. To help work out which, you need to know the story behind it. My challenge to you?… Don’t make assumptions that things are rosy because they look rosy or bleak because they look bleak. Look at what is in front and behind and see what can be learned from.