Change positions to access the diversity

Landscape photography has given me a deeper understanding and appreciation of how time, space and object, interconnect to create and define the reality that we observe.

If you go to the same place over and over again, and keep your focus on a specific object of interest, you will notice the impact of time. The belief that you know the place due to the familiarity, gets challenged when you consider how time changes the landscape. From a psychological standpoint, the person you are today, will not be exactly the same person you are tomorrow. While you may think or believe that you are the same, small (and maybe unnoticed) changes are unfolding as you evolve over time.

In a previous article, I mentioned that a beginner’s mind (that makes no assumptions when you encounter sameness or familiarity) gets cultivated when you are open to ‘seeing’ the ever changing dynamic of time.

So what do you experience if you keep time constant (which is not actually possible) and then change space or perspective of the object of interest? You get diversity.

At any given point in time, when a group of people are discussing a specific topic of contention, different perspectives (or positions) will emerge. Diversity is all about viewing the same object but from different positions in space. Space is context. Context defines meaning.

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There are daily patterns of events that recur at approximately the same time everyday. The A380 Airbus passing overhead at approximately the same time of day, everyday, is a case in point. It is a beautiful plane and has such presence when flying above.

To reveal the diversity of perspective of the plane in different contexts, I set up my camera in different places and waited for the plane to pass by.

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IMG_8464-2When considering any issue, try and shift your position or perspective so that you get a more ‘richer’ understanding of the complexity that surrounds the issue. However, this requires that you give up your usual perspective, which feels safe, comfortable and ingrained. That is why most people find it extremely difficult to let go of the familiar position that they take. Holding on to one’s perspective is driven by fear of change, or fear of losing oneself, or fear of being negatively influenced by another perspective. It is this fear that rigidifies and intensifies a stance or position, which then increases the possibility of conflict and blockage.

A dominant voice that prescribes to others closes down possibilities and increases feelings of resentment and anger. All perspectives need to be seen and considered in order to gain a deeper understanding of an issue. The challenge is to then integrate this diversity (incorporating all perspectives), so that more complex solutions can be formulated for a resolution to unfold. This is especially true when dealing with global concerns that do not have a ‘simple, one answer’ which is driven by a one size fits all, type of thinking.

Labels and water-tight language

In consulting with clients, I have noticed how problems are given an absolute, immovable, dominant status in the way that they are spoken about. Words such as ‘always’ and ‘never’ highlight the water-tight nature of the problem being encountered. Comments such as: ‘my husband is always late’, ‘my daughter never does her homework’, ‘my boss is always in a bad mood’, ‘my wife never listens to what I am telling her’ reflects how one may inadvertently put those we are having difficulty with into a sealed, water-tight box.

Water-tight language about the problem generally entraps a person, and restricts and limits possibilities moving forward into the future.

Due to the co-operative nature of energy and informational flow, there is an ongoing recursive loop between how we think, how we speak and how we experience reality. In essence this means that what we think, is what we will see and experience. Linked to this idea is the notion of how we may unconsciously create a label of another person which then determines how we perceive and interact with this person. In a previous article I covered in detail how labels get created, resulting in self-fulfilling prophecies. In essence, a label gets created when an authoritative observer dogmatically attributes and describes certain behaviours to another person in a water-tight way, and then continues to perpetuate this perspective over time. A label starts as a seed, that eventually grows into a huge tree.

One way to break labels is to question the assumptions that you may be making when you explain or describe an experience. Engaging in a reflective conversation that offers space helps to highlight and reveal the tacit assumptions that you may be making when you try and give meaning to your experiences with others.

I enjoy long walks in the country side. I pass by a tree that I have developed a connection (relationship) with. I find myself taking many photographs of this tree. While the tree is fixed in the ground in a permanent way, I have noticed that this tree does not have an absolute, fixed perceptual energy to it. It seems to change depending on the time of day that I walk pass, the emotional mood that I am in and the climatic conditions that are prevailing at a given point in time. These factors tend to combine to co-create a certain reality of the tree for me. I share some of the photographs to reveal the range of realities that are reflected by this lone beautiful tree.

Just after sunrise today
After sunrise
A week ago after snow
After snow

The above two photographs were taken with a 100mm lens but from the exact opposite viewpoint when I took the photographs.

Two months ago just after sunset
After sunset
Beautiful autumn colours in October
Beautiful autumn colours
Thick mist today
Thick mist

The above three photographs were taken more or less from the exact same viewpoint, with the same wide angle lens.

A creative perspective
A creative perspective

The above photograph was a creative expression of how I felt about the tree. I did a zoom burst to capture this image.

Galloping into 2014

In the Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the year of the horse. In it’s wild, untamed state, the horse is a noble, independent animal that enjoys the freedom of movement.

Chincoteague and Assateague are islands, situated on the Atlantic east coast of Virginia, USA are known for their herds of wild horses. On a recent trip to Assateague I wondered if I would be lucky enough to spot one of these elusive horses. As it so happened I was gifted with a rare sighting.

A wild horse on Assateague island
A wild horse on Assateague island

While travelling to Assateague the car broke down. We were forced to re-plan, to deal with this mishap. Being stranded in an unfamiliar place kicked up anxiety. We felt vulnerable. It is only in times such as this that one realizes how important having independent transport is and how this enhances and supports ones feelings of security and strength. However, after hiring a car and having lost a large chunk of time we were back on the road towards our destination.

After this hiccup in our journey there was discussion in the car, about modes of travel, horses, and hindrances in reaching our destination.

We were only staying one night on the island of Chincoteague, since Assateague was a nature reserve that did not offer any accommodation.

While standing on the balcony of the hotel room in Chincoteague, I looked to my left. It was just before sunrise, overcast and cold. I focused on a house in the distance that was on the edge of the water. Above the house, the clouds filled the sky. The was no possibility for a single sun ray to penetrate the thick cloudy blanket. The water in front of the house was still. It offered a perfect mirror to create a dreamy, fluffy reflection that matched everything that existed above.

Looking to the left just before sunrise
Looking to the left just before sunrise

After an outing, I returned to my room mid-morning. Once again standing on the balcony, I looked out to the right. A beautiful perspective of lines and simplicity was in front of me. The full blanket of clouds had broken. The natural clear blue sky was coming through. A bridge surrounded by a strip of golden coloured reeds and marshy vegetation separated the distant sky from the still water.

Looking to the right at mid-morning, 10h30
Looking to the right at mid-morning

Perspective and point-of-view are what determines our explanations and interpretations of the experiences we have in our lives. As we gallop into the new year, we will no doubt encounter our challenges and mishaps. Our journeys may be temporarily halted. It is during such times that we need to be aware of our perspective. The two perspectives standing on the balcony highlighted the following for me:

  • Conditions change as time unfolds
  • A clear distant goal emerges out of a sea of murky possibilities
  • There are at least two perspectives when standing in one place – try and access both of these
  • Look for a clear, simple straight line to your goal
  • Look for the bridge that joins two distinct (and maybe opposing) worlds
  • Keep still to allow reflection
  • Try and access the beauty that surrounds you

Wishing you all an exciting new year.