“A human being is part of a whole, called by us ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
During a storm, the wind is blowing hard, the air is biting cold, and the rain is piercing and wet. Being in a storm feels uncomfortable, perhaps even overwhelming. What do you see when you’re standing in front of a junk-filled garage? You see a big mess. How about when you have an argument with a friend or family member? During the confrontation, you may experience anger and hurt feelings. But when you’re in the smack midst of what appears to us to be chaos, is it possible that something greater is there, something that could be discovered with some distance or a change in perspective?
From a distance a storm looks very different than it does up close:
How about that messy garage? Maybe it’s filled with boxes of old photographs, boogie boards, gardening tools, holiday decorations, and a car or two. But aren’t those tangible items stored in an apparently happenstance manner really symbols of love, tradition, joy, and prosperity, that when combined reveal a life well lived?
What about that issue with your friend or loved one? Do your differences provide you with an opportunity to find common ground and enjoy a new level of intimacy, or a point of departure to make room for healthier relationships and connections?
The rain? The boxes? The confrontations? What if those were fractals?
Fractal patterns are everywhere in nature, broccoli, snowflakes, flowers, coral, and ferns. Looking just at one part, you see that part. From a different perspective, you see the pattern. So how do perspectives and patterns influence our perception of our mess?
If you’re in the midst of a corn maze, you see walls of cornstalks. But from a distance, the pattern emerges and you can find which direction on the path you wish to follow – or find that you were already headed in the desired direction. It’s the same thing with traffic on the freeway. It isn’t always possible to see ahead to know if it is better to take a side road or maintain the present course; however, from that spot you can choose to curse at other drivers or turn up the radio and sing along.
Being caught in a storm, stuck in traffic, standing in front of a garage that needs organizing, or arguing with a loved one may be uncomfortable when you’re in the midst of it. Is there comfort in knowing that the mess itself is part of a great and glorious pattern, and that even the parts that aren’t the most beautiful or are the hardest to see might also be more than just part of the whole, but essential to it, like roots to the tree?
(Storm photographs courtesy of Google Images.)