Having a beautiful view out your window is a treat. By giving you the gift of time and place, it teaches you to see how something that is always the same is also always different, full of cycles that change with the passing of the sun, the passing of the seasons, and even the passing of our own heart.
The same landscape can reflect so many differences, all depending on context. Our experience of the world can never be objective because our context cannot be easily quantified.
I have been hitting the “A Random Post” on the top of this blog. It lets me experience the past with a new context, both reminding me of old lessons and letting me see my life in a new context.
You can’t read one post understand and understand what I am saying, I have been told. It is only over time that you understand what the landscape holds, as anyone who loves nature will tell you. A quick glance at any place or at any heart will only let you see what you already know how to see, only let you understand what you already think you understand.
To see things in a new way, you need to engage them in context, doing the work of picking the eternal from the ephemeral. You need to be able to pay attention, to be present for the gifts that are offered. It is the connections that emerge from below surface separations that help you understand and grow.
It’s easy to look at a transperson, for example, and see only the body they were born with, using your old context, and miss the contents of their heart. Or you may see only their defences, the scars and rationalizations they have acquired as barriers over the years.
Many researchers used to decide that transpeople were broken because they found us broken. Without looking at the context of a trans life they discounting the enormous shaming social pressure that was specifically applied to break us by breaking our spirits, forcing us unto dark and airless closets where we couldn’t help but grow twisted.
Anyone can tell the difference between red and white wine, but engaging the nuances takes time, work and context. For example, a white burgundy is pale, even though it’s really a red wine, made from red grapes with the skins removed early in the process.
In the spiral of life, we come back again and again to see the same things, especially seeing our own nature as expressed in our desires, ideas and choices. When we pay attention, rather than being distracted, we can begin to see those things in context, experiencing the essential underpinnings rather than the momentary novelty.
I urge you to look deeper, deep enough that context begins to open you to process. It is the only way I know to really understand the patterns of nature, and that is especially important in understanding the patterns of your own natural heart, which is so often buried under layers of socialization.
The premise of most therapy is just to see your life in context, helping you break old habits, create new patterns and make different choices. We learn practices that help put the world into context, allowing us to approach it without flailing.
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, opening to yourself and to your world.
It takes courage to push yourself
to places that you have never been before…
to test your limits… to break through barriers.
And the day came when the risk it took
to remain tight inside the bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
— Anaïs Nin
The entire goal of gender studies is teasing the natural out from the merely conventional so we can both respect difference and affirm possibility. It gives us the wisdom to know what we have the power to change and what we need to serenely accept, though we still have to supply our own courage to transform our lives.
Only respecting context, pushing to understand the entire process and not just judge on a snapshot, can help us to do that work.
It has been a joy to me every time I have watched another petal open, seen a little deeper and understood a little more. By celebrating context, I have gained a more full understanding of the process of the heart, helping me quickly read patterns, illuminating what is dark to many, and getting me closer to my own nature.
I wish this same blessing for you as you come back to touchstones and see them in a new way, opening to a new self. Maybe even my writing will offer some of that, as when you revisit it you see meaning that slipped by you in the past, context that was invisible to you at an earlier and less understanding moment.
The gift of time and attention is the gift of context, which is the only way to understanding the processes that shape our lives. Seeing the landscape change over the course of our experience is what brings wisdom, as some ephemeral bits fade away and the eternal bits begin to stand out as you get past your own stuff.
If the goal of a human life is to use separation and suffering to learn what we could never learn without them, trading a slow death for a growing story, trading vitality for wisdom, then it is an expanding understanding of context and process which reveals all.
May you get older and wiser, get more decrepit and more enlightened, everyday. May time and the world passing by you give you understanding and peace.
This is my blessing and my hope for you.