Monday, April 11, 2011

The Unseen Connective Tissue / An Introduction

In past postings in blogs or on facebook, I have often referred to the discipline of focusing on "The Unseen Connective Tissue". I have often been asked what exactly do I mean when I drop that phrase in conversation, or in writing.

Everybody is well acquainted with the concept of "6 degrees of separation"; how we are connected by or relationships, our networks of friends and family, and our work. With the advent of social networking platforms, these days its seems more like ".5 degrees". Our pasts can really come back to cheer us, or haunt us.

Carl Sagan once said "The Cosmos is also within us... We are all star stuff...we are a way for the cosmos to know itself": That even through randomly chaotic events, the basic elements of creation are constants, and we are everything, and everything is us.

As we blunder our way through this physical world, life can be randomly chaotic. It's easy to forget just how connected all of us really are. Forget about being connected at the biological, chemical or atomic level... the social patterns in the life experience are just a weak mimicry of the epic chaos of the Universe, and we all seem to be Hell bent for leather to intentionally act like bulls in the Universe's china shop. The subconscious makes it so.

So its inherently difficult to be sensitive to those patterns from our meager self-centered human perspective and vision as we bash into and away from each other in a way that seems to have no known rhythm. The human condition hardly allows ourselves to see with any type of clarity just what is happening within us, let alone what is happening within others, and just how we may be effecting what is emotionally occurring in others.

Life's narrative has a linear direction. We are born, we live, and then we die. Beginning, Middle and End. But what happens in the middle? We force it to be perceived as linear, but really, it's anything but linear. As we are busy putting our logically sequential five year and ten year goal oriented plans together and then attempt to execute them, we delusionally ignore the hovering umbrella of undetected chaos above us; the crazy celestial sphere of the unpredictable that when truly considered, has a tendency to knock us out of our comfort zones of logic, and what we think we know.

Well, we do so at our own peril. That's the stuff that we can allow ourselves to be easily distracted from recognizing, and then sympathetically react to in kind. In my middle age, I have realized that this oft ignored component has critically impaired my vision, and my ability to foresee. It’s the metaphoric log in my mind’s eye.

I have been actively training my brain to intentionally ignore the linear aspects of my own life's narrative, and force myself to view it as a massive spherical jigsaw puzzle, with my point of view being in the center of the sphere. Viewing each individual piece has it's merits, but only when all the pieces are accurately assembled and viewed as a whole allows narrative to transform into a three dimensional shape, with a much deeper understanding of how all the pieces relate to one another to create that imperfect shape as perfectly as possible.

With much practice, you then can see patterns in the chaos. This is the nascent beginnings of the true skill of foresight. There are other skills involved: Calculating mathematical probabilities, the acute study of human behavioral patterns, and the accommodation of "Acts of God".... random events that are beyond detection of a humble Homo-Sapien mortal.

Simplified, this skill is, in conventional wisdom, based on a "seeing the forest from the trees" philosophy, expanded. It's more like "Seeing the molecule of the leaf on the sub-atomic level and then seeing how it relates to the Universe, and all points in between, simultaneously". The forest is really only a slightly larger jigsaw puzzle piece.

Once on a trip to NYC, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a friend, appropriately primed with mind altering substances. At the end of a very large room was the iconic pointillist painting by Georges Seurat, "La Grande Jatte".

You could get real close to it, close enough to see a single "dot" of paint. I was truly amazed and moved not only by the sheer herculean human effort of executing singular dots, but transforming those dots into a finished realized vision that moved my soul on a much higher plane.

I turned to my friend and asked, "Can you imagine his 'process'? Getting up close, executing the exact right dot in color, size, and distance from surrounding dots.... and then running away from the canvass to get perspective and control of the whole? He was fucking CRAZY!!!"

I then began physically demonstrating, running at full speed away and toward the painting, imaginary paint brush and pallette within each hand and accompanying my demonstration with appropriate cartoon sound effects as I hit the "brakes" on my full speed approach of the canvas. Employing nonsensical Warner Brother's-esque "running" and Three Stooge's burbling "crazy" sounds at full volume in a crowded gallery of hoity-toity art lovers, and zipping back and forth in a room with millions of dollars worth of French impressionist paintings hanging on the walls, will attract attention. Especially when the source is a leather jacket clad, holes in his jeans, hair down to his ass stoned freak, laughing like a crazed hyena.

Needless to say, Museum security threw me out. But it was a good laugh, and ultimately, worth getting escorted out in rather rough fashion with my freak ass eventually hitting the pavement. For a brief "New York Minute", I WAS Seurat. Plugging directly into him was a high voltage, and life changing event.

Viewing one dot of a Seurat painting and then seeing the entire canvas, with a true understanding of how all of those dots relate to each other to create a complete picture, is a process that I have been honing and attempting to perfect within the confines of my own cranium since getting unceremoniously kicked to the Metropolitan's curb. It wasn't just the dots that were important, but the space between them was equally if not more so.

Life, and the creative force behind it, deconstructed as a series of pixels that at first glance, has no order. That cold realization will fling you from your comfort zone, and into the unknown. You are Wile E. Coyote at the moment he realizes he's off the edge of the cliff, suspended in mid-air, forelornly blinking and holding a sign that says "Uh-Oh!" knowing that the fall is about to come.

Reminding yourself that those pixels actually do relate, but perhaps the concept of an undetected but still self imposed blindness prevents you from really seeing and feeling at a much more elemental level, is not a mental exercise for the weak willed. Forcing yourself into examining the pixels, and your relationship to them while embracing fully the depth and breadth of your own obtuseness may be character building, but it isn't exactly pleasant. Its more like the prolonged ache experienced when eating ice cream too fast. A wince inducing, brain freeze look at yourself.

One of the adverse side effects is that it constantly reminds me to intentionally tear down my own ego. I can count the self imposed swipes at it on a times per second basis. It's uncomfortable to the extreme, and yet I view it as an irritant in an oyster. A grain of sand exercise that eventually ends up as a pearl of wisdom. A pearl which has no calcuable value in the realm of my mere human understanding.

So here's a story that will hopefully illustrate the concept of unseen connective tissue.... and my own inability to see it. The narrative may seem linear, but it isn't linear. It hops around, and it takes place randomly over a forty-five year chunk of my life; It's random chaos sending the seemingly sequential nature of fate careening into trees and guardrails, and sometimes, over the edges of cliffs, Wile E. Coyote sign in hand.

It isn't for the squeamish, faint of heart, and most definitely isn't for those with short attention spans. If you can't hang, do yourself a favor and move on to something else that will captivate you, because this story is like picking away at a mountain with a dental tool and trying to end up with the mountain totally transformed into a large pile of gravel.

I will, over a 365 day period, write 365 consecutive daily blogs, called "The Daily Dose". I will be exploring this very concept: That the seemingly unrelated is ALL RELATED.

If you sign on as a regular reader, in the back of your mind, try to keep this concept bubbling on your near sub-conscious back burner. These blogs may take the form of memoir, and the forensic deconstruction of a single life: but that is not the sole intent of starting this project.

I want to give to you what I have learned in a lifetime on planet Earth. How you use or even value this information is up to you, but if you decide that it is useful, then I will have achieved the goal that I set for myself.

Give Love. Receive Love. Do it with a true and authentic heart, and always remember to be grateful.

1 comment:

Jane said...

George, this is an extremely strong piece. Your "writing thought" process is becoming stronger and stronger.

Great writing takes discipline and the wish to bring others into a world they don't know about, but wish to participate in on some level. Your writing brings the reader into your stories and places them smack in the middle. As a writer its extremely hard to accomplish, but you're doing with with panache.