Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Space in Between

The pictures I took last night were about literally, seeing things in a different light. The moon was out, and standing at certain points on the bank you could see the reflection of the moon. Chasing the reflection to find the best one was an encompassing game for awhile. The one I posted here is my favorite because the moon and it's reflection are symmetrically positioned in the photo. That reveals the theme for this September evening's excursion and illustrates what I've been contemplating for the past couple of weeks. In the moon photo, the scene is in between the subject matter that caught my attention. The moon and the reflection are the highlights, but the lake makes the reflection possible. The highlights of life happen in context.

The next scene, the swans through the trees, really struck me as I was walking around. It might not come through perfectly here, but the swans framed by the trees at twilight were very different than the same scene during the day. I've noticed that view quite a few times and even taken some photos, but none ever quite worked well. This photo is all about context, the relationship between the colors, shapes and textures are what works for me. It's every thing together, there's not a clear focal point, but I think it's intriguing anyway. My takeaway inspiration is that in addition to sticking with practices that serve you (I was not going to stop last night, but I was following my own advice from my last post) make sure you note the possibilities that a different light brings to the same perspective. A different light doesn't change the context as much as a different perspective does, but sometimes, the ease of a more nuanced shift makes a more graceful transition to deeper understanding.

When you study communication, you learn that there are high-context and low-context cultures. High-context cultures are about the group. The group has a high level of common experience and so less words are necessary, because much of the meaning is implied. Low-context cultures require more explicit communication. Our northeastern American metropolitan culture is generally low context, and you can say generally that you'd find more high-context communication in eastern cultures. However, that's way too simplistic, because if you look at sub-groups as cultures (and you can) you find that they are everywhere. Your workplace likely has a high-context element that values in-group knowledge. Your family can be high-context, the more shared experience you have, the less you may have to express verbally to communicate. High- or low- contexts are neutral. One is not better than the other. It is helpful to communication though, to be aware of which style you use routinely, and assess if it's working for all involved. Switching styles, is like seeing things in a different light. Not too different, but maybe enough to gracefully move to more effective understanding.

My mother and I talk about this all the time. We are definitely low-context people. We'll say everything that we think about. We also have felt for some time that we need to watch it and just stop talking once in awhile. I've found that really useful. And so my high-context partner -- nature -- the peaceful lake that wouldn't hear me if I was talking anyway, has taught me the value of listening over time, and being aware of what's communicated between the lines.

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