Perspective

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”
James Thurber

Yesterday’s exercise in being flexible enough to stop trying to change things beyond our control is just the start. This new worldview only has a chance of sticking if we embrace uncertainty. Our Western culture is not so good at this, and being committed to it on a personal level means constantly swimming upstream. It takes courage (a topic for next week), and it demands a new perspective on what’s important.

As Thurber (and Rilke yesterday) reminded us, knowing the questions trumps chasing after the answers. Perspective demands broad vision; the kind that affords us the luxury of sussing out what matters. We just have to find those places and times in our lives that allow the broad view, and sometimes that means backing up a bit.

“Reculer pour mieux sauter”

I have no idea where this comes from; like the best of all principles, it seems to show up everywhere. Literally, it means to back up in order to jump better. Physically and mentally, it makes all kinds of common sense. Back up, get a running start, and leap. We can see it in our mind’s eye.

The same approach applies to progress in our musical and personal lives. Once we gain a little perspective, we may be willing to admit that the path we’ve chosen (on a micro or macro level) is not one that will allow us to continue to make progress. Perspective says that it’s OK to take a step back, gather ourselves and our forces, and go in a different direction that will allow that leap.

Again, be smart, work hard, but stay loose. These things are not mutually exclusive.

“Not all who wander are lost.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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