I’ve been in the Netherlands for the past week, seeing friends and experiencing beautiful things under no obligation or responsibility to do anything. These conditions are ripe for the growth of insights. I’ve had a fair number, but let’s just pick the most recent one, which is a two-parter so it’s like a bonus for you.
Jetlag being what it is, I’ve had a lot of stupid-early mornings by myself here, watching the sun rise and listening to bells and whatnot. It is dangerously beautiful here. I’m also in a particularly vulnerable place, due to the aforementioned insight growth conditions, and this morning I was laying on the couch watching this stupid-beautiful light play through the window and just lost it.
It was so beautiful and I was just in tears over the fact that I couldn’t catch it. I couldn’t share it. It was there in the moment and then gone and lost. Part of the tears was embarrassment over my occasional habit of crying over an intense observation, but more so the fact that no one else would get to see the beautiful thing. Now, this is a common occurrence. I very often become overwhelmed and terribly sad when I see something beautiful or hear something insightful and know that I will be unable to convey the experience directly to other people. The agony of the light-play through the window is run of the mill. I tried to alleviate this somewhat by lamenting to twitter, which you can see here:
So there's this window over there and you can see a layer of the brick of the building and the sky next to it is SO BLUE but…
— Lisa Brown (@Wertle) December 9, 2014
…and a photo won't catch it. I can't catch it. There is no one else here to see it and this is making me overwhelmed and I am so sad.
— Lisa Brown (@Wertle) December 9, 2014
@Wertle Instead of being sad that no one saw it with you, be happy that someone did and you got to be that someone. 🙂
— Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) December 9, 2014
Rami showed up and nosed me with some kind words to make me feel better, then I sat and chewed on them a bit and thus comes the insight.
I think I too often treat myself as a beacon through which other people experience the world. If I can’t figure out ways to share my insights I get distressed, and if I experience something amazing my first reaction is to figure out how I can drag other people along to also experience that amazing thing.
It never once crossed my mind that the beautiful thing that only I got to see could be perceived as a sort of gift. Like it could be a little jewel of an experience, all for me, and that this could make me feel special and nice. I felt a little bad. Like if someone gave me a very personal present and my reaction was to agonize that I couldn’t figure out a way to give it away to someone else.
I guess what I’m saying is, I should be more gentle with myself. Which, everyone “knows” that, everyone always gives the advice and nods in agreement and is like “yes, yes I should be more gentle with myself.” But it’s hard to internalize. I need to learn to be okay with being alone and experiencing things that are only for me. It makes sense, since my reality is the only thing I can ever experience the world through, right? I should indulge it now and again and be a little selfish, and be happy to have something that no one else gets.
Easier said than done, right? But at least the insight is there.
The second part: I often feel like I look at situations and experiences through a bunch of different lenses. I do this in design, for sure, but it’s a habit to look at any situation through at least 3 or 4 lenses before making a call on it.
Sometimes a lens gets stuck out of view so you can’t see through it, and it is nice to have people in your life who can come along and bump them so they fall into place. A paradigm shift doesn’t have to come with some grand or catastrophic event, but rather a little bump and a shifted lens can change everything.