Perspective may not be everything, but a widened perspective, coupled with the ability to zoom in when needed, is like a skeleton key.
I don’t know about you, but when I wake up and am not practicing some kind of social media diet, I open up the book of face and browse around. It tends to not help my mood or day, but I still do it. It is amelting pot of perspective, many times leading to a devolution of thought rather than elevation (but not always). In a way, it keeps me grounded in society.
The first chapter talks about the evolution of humans and our ability to master things. One of the attributes that Greene points to is the development of our binocular eyesight, which gives us the ability to zoom in. He also delves into what he believes are the three levels of mastery.
What I’m taking from this is that as we begin to master something, our perspective must narrow before it expands again. This expansion, back into beginner’s mind, is possible because we develop instincts from going deep into a subject and its surrounding society, leaving our conscious mind the ability to widen our perspective again.
I won’t regurgitate the book here. Let’s just talk perspective instead. The subject came up last night at dinner. I like to use tarot cards to prompt a widening of perspective. Ah, tarot cards. Tools of thedevil, great illuminator of destiny, fun parlor game…each of us has a narrative programmed in us about tarot cards. Mine began with former due to my evangelical upbringing. Then, I wanted to believe there was some mystical significance. Jury is out on that one because thus far, it has not been proven –though I had a crazy accurate and detailed reading in Belfast once.
It turns out that the history of tarot was a parlor thing that started with common playing cards in Italy. Kinda takes the fun out of it. But, while original playing cards were also linked to this time period, their true origin is considered unknown, by Wikipedia anyway.
There are plenty of scholars out there thinking about this, so I’ll let them do their thing. Meanwhile, no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater (excuse the cliché, but I’m not supposed to put these in novels). I’ve learned that the cards can help me to expand my perspective on any given situation, regardless of what I believe about their origin.
I start with a question or intention. Today, I want to know what I should be thinking about when I write my daily thousand words of a new book. I shuffle the cards three times, cut the deck three times, then spread them on the desk in front of me. Meanwhile, my brain is turning over the question or intention. It is focusing. I run my hands over the cards and take one.
Eight of Cups – “the eights are about endurance, evolution, and flow” – so my little book says. Funny, wasn’t I just writing about evolution? There’s my brain saying I’m on a connected track. Cool! Further, the eight of cups meanings says, “Emotional strength is not about overcoming our feelings, but instead immersing ourselves in them so we can release them.”
Well that’s not one I’ve given much thought to. Feelings? You mean those hormonally driven brain pathways that get in the way of what I’m trying to accomplish? I’m not supposed to ignore them and shove them in that overstuffed dark closet in my mind? I’m supposed to get on down in them??
That is a completely new perspective for me. Even more interesting is that I can connect it to a facebook post from a friend in tech this morning. Seems she’s been trying to unravel all the things she’s suppressed in order to successfully navigate a career in tech.
It turns out that most of my characters are in tech in one form or another, including the female protagonist. How many women in tech can relate to the shoving down of feelings in order to be successful in a hugely male dominated environment? I sure as hell can.
So, wouldn’t it track that at least one of my females characters might go through this? I’ve got bells and whistles going off all over now. All because I sought out a new perspective.
My monkey mind can now focus…