I used to sit in Friends Meeting meditating on perspective. My inspiration came from observing the brick wall outside an upper window. Intellectually I was aware that the lines of mortar were parallel, as were the muntins (my first new word for the year) in the window; I even knew that if I went outside and measured they would be parallel to each other. From where I sat, however, they were anything but. Nor did there appear to be right angles. I understand convergence of lines in perspective drawing, and that when you are looking up at something that is pretty far off your right shoulder there is more distortion added. Still and all, I couldn’t shift what I knew and make it what I saw. This was not an Escher style exercise or one of those things where you can adjust your eyes to make boxes cave in, or explode from the paper. The eyes sees what they will.
This year I have been mulling over other things that require an understanding of where I am, mentally and physically, as I look at them. Here is one example, again with a Quaker context. We were having a discussion a number of years ago about what your options are when you are at the end of your rope. We were, by and large, taking it as an exercise in how to deal with frustration, and options curtailed. Then one Friend said, “Doesn’t it depend on which end of your rope you have hold of?” Huh? Instantly the conversation made a 120 degree turn, as if once one alternate perspective was finally spoken others could now be aired. What if it was at the beginning of the rope? What if you were climbing rather than slipping down? What if was a rope on which you were sliding down, but were dropping gently into the water from a burning ship? The shift opened doors, windows, and sink holes into amazing caverns littered with gems.
This line of thought started as I was working on yet another Mobius scarf, this one with 5 half twists (hopefully) yielding a pentagon-like structure. I started thinking about how this looks like a solid thing, 3D, with volume. And yet when you examine a Mobius structure it is one sided. Here is a knitted example:
The way it is shaped results in a scarf that doesn’t bunch up and lies flat under the collar of a coat. It can also twist around your ears without slipping off. The nature of the Mobius is that ———- It has only one side! If you make a paper one (take a strip of paper, flip one end over. Maintain that orientation and tape the two ends together) and then start drawing a line around the center of the strip, you will meet that same line after having, apparently, gone around twice without ever having to lift your pen. So, I’ve been knitting a Mobius scarf, getting in the groove for a knit-along hosted by BadCatDesigns, and I’ve been thinking that beyond changing perspective, there are things that just so blatantly seem to be one thing and have some sweet inner secret, like Mobius strips.
I’ve seen my kids that way. After being put off a couple of times while I finished up something I was working on, one of them, about age 3, went to the fridge, got out the milk and chocolate syrup, and began to prepare of glass of chocolaty goodness. Then something happened and when we came down to the dining room there were drizzles of dark chocolate syrup all over the maple wood floors, the darker cherry wood table, and out onto the pine porch. One of us got angry at the mess and waste. The other saw the way the chocolate color complimented the browns of the different woods and could see how the young chef might have gotten carried away. Perspective.
Charley Dartnell, former minister at Husson College, once preached a sermon on remembering past wounds and wrongs. It fits into my theme. He said that these were like rowing a boat. You guided yourself by seeing the things behind you, essentially moving backwards toward your destination. You used these things as landmarks to help you steer away from danger. Your perspective helped you row straight, helped you orient yourself. Again, perspective.
These things weigh into my meditation for today: things are not what they seem; change perspective and you change what you see; there is more depth to some things than can be scientifically proven.