This is Part 18 of a series on vision. You can read previous installments here:
Part 1. Part 2. Part3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8. Part 9. Part 10. Part 11. Part 12. Part 13. Part 14. Part 15. Part 16. Part 17.
To See Something, Get Outside It
If you want to see the Manhattan skyline, your best position is across the Hudson River in New Jersey, or across the East River in Brooklyn or Queens. But the best views of the skyline are from a plane landing at Laguardia Airport. (This may be one of the only reasons to fly into Laguardia.)
If you want to look at a building, you walk outside and stand across the street.
To see the forest for the trees — to discern the pattern, see the big picture — you must get over the forest.
If you really want to see something, you have to get outside of it and over it, preferably with some distance. This is the skill of getting perspective.
To Understand Something, Get Inside It
The only way to understand what it’s like to live in Manhattan, to feel the energy of the city, is to get on the island, to walk the concrete streets, to ride the subway. You’ll never get this from a vantage point across the river or in the air.
To appreciate the height and scale of the trees, you must stand in the middle of the forest.
If you want to understand how a building works, you must venture to its basement and to the roof, and examine the insides of the walls to investigate the wiring and the plumbing.
To fully understand the dynamics of anything, you must look at it from the inside.
This is the skill of introspection — seeing from within.
We Need Both
Perspective and introspection are two types of vision. Not necessarily opposites, but complimentary. We need both.
To see yourself you must get outside yourself. Your patterns, your beliefs, your stories, how you fit into the world around you — all of these can best be seen from the outside.
You’re not aware of your habits until you are. That’s why they’re habits — they are unconscious. You need perspective to see your patterns and habits.
So you need perspective, someone or something outside yourself who can help you see what you can’t see.
Equally as crucial: to see yourself, you must get over yourself. You must be open to hearing and listening to what others offer, and to seeing how you fit into the context of what’s around you. You must be willing to let go of your memories of how things worked in the past, and your ideas about how certain things will work in the future, because life isn’t static. Things are always changing.
Seeing the patterns isn’t enough; to change them, you must develop facility with the inner workings of the system. Your patterns are part of a system of complex wiring and plumbing running your fire (action), water (emotion), and air (thoughts). Nobody can tell you what you’re feeling. Nobody else can see the emotions and the thoughts that come up within you, and how they trigger your patterns of behavior.
That’s the work you must be willing to do on the inside.
Just like you’d call a plumber or an electrician to look at the plumbing or wiring of a building, you can and should seek help from professionals who can guide you thought the complexities of your inner wiring. But unlike a building, no expert can get inside you and tell you what you are feeling or thinking. The best they can do is guide you and advise you on the typical patterns they see. Ultimately, you must take responsibility for going within and doing the work.
This is the formula for seeing anything with more clarity: perspective and introspection. Getting outside and above, and going within.