The photo I included in the last post, the clementine half...I just love it. It's so perfectly indicative of a good clementine: fresh, juicy, bright, lush. It's really quite sexy in a swollen lip, youthful sort of way. Then I tilted my screen back about 15 degrees, and the color rendering changed slightly, the sharpness waned, and the once-beautiful photograph lost some of its purity and luster; instead, it looked a bit garish, a bit cheap. And in that moment, I thought about how people's perspectives on any given situation are as similar or different. How the angle at which each of us enter a moment alters our experience of it. I was reminded of this earlier tonight in a different way. Jack couldn't sleep so we were snuggled on the couch reading the book of his choice: Spaceships, a reference type from which, I'm almost embarrassed to say, I learn something new each time we read. In any case, just before he headed back to bed, we read about the shuttle's re-entry to Earth's atmosphere, and, not unlike the angle at which you view the clementine, if the pilot is off by even a hair, the crew doesn't just re-enter with delta-force type drama and flames but, rather, burns up and dies.

The angle matters then, eh?

It does.

In my second round of grad school, I took a course entitled Adult Development. I was drawn to it for a number of reasons, not least that pretty much no one talks about development after adolescence; since I was a mid-20s "adult," engaged and embarking on life in all different ways, I thought why the hell not, this seems relevant. And it was. It was great.

In the most distilled, Cliffs-Notes-on-speed kind of way, this class was about the development of a sense of self in which individuation has truly happened and been completed. The subject -you- finally recognize that the object -any other person with whom you were dealing- is not an enmeshed particle of your own being on whom your very identity rests but rather an other, another individual with his/her own perspectives which might be similar to yours but might also be wildly different. It's in the former scenario that people start to freak out. If, in an argument let's say, you are unable to separate yourself from your sparring partner, unable to see his/her perspective enough to simply validate or moderately understand it, then you are not truly "developed" enough to be a true adult because the real adult is able to maintain distance enough to see and respect both sides.

This is not to say that difficult situations aren't unpleasant for this advanced person; on the contrary, they are. But, the critical difference is that the evolved person doesn't take a horrible beating to his/her sense of self; sensed pain comes from recognizing that subject and object aren't on the same page, not from a feeling that part of you (subject) is being massacred. Long story short, the evolved person can recognize that perhaps the screen is tilted in such a way that resolution and color are skewed, that the space craft just missed the optimal angle for relatively pain-free re-entry.

As the political atmosphere heats up concurrent with diminishing decency, the everyday relationships we all have sometimes sour to grotesque degrees, the holidays and all their familial tensions approach, I hope to remember that perspective, and shifts in it, can make a world of difference, in directions both positive and negative. I hope to keep strength in the face of situations I know to be false, to remain humble in those I know I might have done better, to stay open and willing yet wise and prudent.