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#18: Vanishing points

#18: Vanishing points

This week has been all about getting match fit. My first full week of working in over a year. It has been great to be back in the classroom. I love teaching.

I am proud that I have not missed a day of my daily writing project, and shipped #37 this morning.

This week I have been thinking a lot about keeping my eyes on the prize and will use a concept in art to illustrate.

Freedom is the horizon

I love those moments when a book stops me in my tracks. It makes everything worthwhile. And I mean, literally, everything.

This quote comes from Anuk Arudpragasam's wonderful 2021 novel A Passage North. Krishan, the main character, is thinking about the Tamil Tiger fighter Kuttimani after the Sri Lankan government had sentenced him to death.

The freedom that Kuttimani desired, the freedom that perhaps all liberation movements sought, was not just the freedom that came when one could move freely over the land on which one's forbears lived, not just the freedom that came from being able to choose and be responsible for one's own life, but the freedom that came when one had access to a horizon, when one felt that the possible worlds that glimmered at its edges were within one's reach. It was only when looking at a horizon that one's eyes could move past all the obstacles that limited one's vision to the present situation, that one's eyes could range without limit to other times and other places, and perhaps this was all that freedom was, ... nothing more than the ability of these [ciliary] muscles to loosen and relax at will...

This is the reason we gravitate to places with a view, be it lookouts or the tops of mountains, to gain this sense of freedom that seeing the horizon affords us. This explains why we crave beaches, not only for the relief from the heat, but for the ability to stand at the water's edge, knowing only water separated (or connected) us to the horizon.

The horizon is the future

Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman wrote, "...science is its contents, the things that have been found out. This is the yield. This is the gold." In the lecture published as The Meaning of it All, he asserts you need to understand what has gone before in order to make progress.

Questions that puzzled the ancients have been answered and science is now on the cusp of new discoveries that are made possible by what has gone before. My analogy is as we, as humans, progress, our collective horizon shifts, and we yearn to see what is beyond that faint line.

The power of vanishing points

Each of us has a unique perspective on the world. You are reading a glimpse into mine. If we only look at right in front of us, we will never see the larger context.

Depending on where we stand, and what we look at, there will be a unique point that ties everything together: the vanishing point.

Raphael's painting The School of Athens is a perfect illustration of a vanishing point. He is telling the viewer that Plato and Aristotle are the centre of human thought.

To view the vanishing point in anything requires the viewer to step back, soften their gaze and see the bigger picture. Where is everything aligning to?

The vanishing point (s) should be the overarching goals that govern your life. They need to be far enough away to be out of reach, yet close enough to remain tempting. We must align everything to that goal. You should be able to draw a straight line between today's project or task and your vanishing point.

Our own vanishing point will be unique and constantly growing as we make progress. It is our own personal north star.

End Note

Thank you for reading this week's edition. I am happy to see this develop, and am seeing it become a space where I can draft very basic drafts of what might become a bigger piece.

As such, your feedback on what resonated is very much needed.

Till next week,