The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Getting a hold on clarity

Sometimes, some concepts can be grasped intuitively but are not necessarily clear.

Most of them require to have been experienced once to be able to build on that first experience and learn from it. Take for example “letting go”, what is it that one is invited to let go? Is it the thing one is attached to? Or can it be something else that is leading to being attached? And how will it work in other situations?

Clarity provides similar challenges. Getting to clarity is rarely a fluid process and often an elusive one.

When answers appear and help grow a sense of clarity, they quickly will be expanded with new questions and doubts.

Sometimes the process is simply about accepting to believe something we are told. Take multiplication tables for example. One can do a lot of thinking and playing to get to the results, but when being taught multiplications we just get used to them and somehow it becomes clear after a while. That is also when our imagination sets in and allows us to expand on them and when methods help multiplication beyond the original tables.

Richard Feynman described something like this once while talking about magnetism. He knew that when someone starts to ask why something happens an endless cycle of why’s can be started. To reach some kind of clarity we need a framework within which we allow something to be true.

However, when it comes to developing an idea or planning the future, there is no “truth”. These are situations in which there can only be our truth or what we need to allow ourselves to accept and then execute the plan. It requires a different type of framework as well as the acceptance of the elusive nature of clarity. In a way, we need to learn to find our sweet spot that is “clear enough”. And we need to allow for a process that continues to contribute answers to our initial question, the one that hasn’t yet matured to “full clarity.”

A lot of this process is about divergence and convergence. Whatever we want to gain clarity on triggers an exploration. One that somehow dissects the question, splitting it into accessible elements, and searching for contributing elements as well as those that can be discarded. It’s a process in which one easily can get lost. Either it becomes a quest for ever more information, or the research remains superficial in the fear of getting lost in the divergent part of the work.

After a while, a process of convergence will set in. Sometimes it happens by itself, more often, however, it needs to be triggered before getting lost in too many details. Here again, the convergence part leads to becoming lost when too many elements need to be reviewed. Or it can become superficial when there is no means to connect the elements and the process of convergence is pushed on.

Whenever things become superficial, there is a potential to rush for closure and let go of the effort that is still needed. That’s a space where clarity is replaced by reassuring.

And yet, convergence is a step where clarity can emerge. The work done generates a feeling where things “make sense” and the result feels acceptable. It is a sudden sense of letting go of the individual elements and seeing something whole appearing that is perceived as beautiful.



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