Tuesday, March 27, 2007

where do you find the best view?

Trying to understand a situation while you're in the middle of it is like trying to navigate in the heart of the city. There's no place that gives you the perspective to understand where you are in terms of where you want to be. There's no place that gives you the perspective to see who you are in terms of the system in which you find yourself.

In the city, you head for a map, or for higher ground. Anyone who has navigated an unfamiliar city with a map will tell you that it is better than trying to find your way around without a map and it is still far from a sure thing. There is something especially satisfying about climbing to higher ground and suddenly seeing relationships that were invisible from ground level.

Often our personal "higher" ground reflects a moral, ethical or disciplined perspective from which to view the particulars of who and where we are. This higher ground can look complicated to other people; to us, it as absolutely clear and complex as a mountaintop or a star. When we adopt its perspective, we know whether to cut ourselves some slack or to reach harder or to run away. Until we adopt its perspective, we are continuous with our environment: we are so much a part of the problem that we cannot imagine - much less implement - a solution.

Integration means retaining your individual integrity within the systems in which you participate. The edges are not always clear when you're in the middle. They become clear when you climb to higher ground.

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