Monday, November 22, 2010

Finding your own frame

One of the dangers of spending a weekend working closely with the ways people perceive and influence is the need to be intentional about one's own framing. As we slide in and out of connections that interest us and warm us, we also slide into frames. If that term is new to you, think about a window frame and the way it draws your eye to certain parts of a landscape, moves other parts to the edges, and leaves some parts out of what you see. Where we look is, in part, determined by the size and shape of the opening through which we look. Changing the frame, changes what we see.

The same is true with metaphoric frames. When we answer a question or get caught up in someone else's passion or urgency, we look through the frame someone else has set. It's not necessarily a bad frame, and it may show us something we would otherwise miss. It's good to borrow different frames. It's good to remember that they are borrowed; we have frames of our own.

It can be hard to be sure which frame is which. Is this enthusiasm deep rooted, or does it belong to a connection or a particular circumstance? Is this restlessness mine? It becomes a question of sorting patiently through perceptions that may not be as natural or inevitable as they seem.

Patience, like intentional breathing, is not always uncomfortable but it is always a little unnatural. It's easier to go with the flow.

Easy isn't always the best. If we want to hold onto ourselves, we need to notice that some frames belong to us. We can own them, hold them, move around them and through them. We can either encourage other people to see the world through them. Sometimes, those people will share them with us and we own the frame collectively. Sometimes they will visit the world through our frame, and then move back to something that fits them better.

It can take some doing to sort through the edges and find the frame that fits.

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