Thursday, December 5, 2002

Possibility

I had an email conversation this morning. Why not use chat? First, it didn't present itself as an option - but if it had, I would have declined. I have a strong attraction to the staccato movement of the email conversation, caused by message lag-time. All that groping about, anticipating articulation, time to imagine... It gives me a sensual pleasure I have never felt while chatting in real-time (or in real-space for that matter). Maybe because it doesn't seek to imitate - it's not trying to be a "real" conversational space, just a different space.

Anyway, this conversation got me thinking about the value of an open mind. I'm fortunate - and unfortunate - enough to be surrounded by people that assume that an open mind is best. But I'm pretty sure none of us really give it much thought. So, I found this description:

"So what is good about having an open mind? First, having an open mind does not mean that one never comes to any convictions in life. It is perfectly possible to have an open mind and live a very principled life, without holding one's beliefs dogmatically. Having an open mind means being prepared to question even your most central beliefs if there is occasion to do so. It means being open, when the time comes, to having your mind changed by an argument better than one's own. It means being able to think both sides of an issue, both the side you think is true and the side you think is false. It also means being able to suspend your beliefs, to play devil's advocate, and to detach yourself somewhat from your own beliefs, actions and feelings. Only living with an open mind gives us a chance to grow and change, for change is inevitable, while growth, unfortunately, is not."

This mostly sounds good to me, but I think that the type of distance or detachment described is a bit off. It seems to me that in order to be able to change in the broadest sense - a central aspect of having an open mind - one must become quite intimate and involved. Raw, vulnerable and uncertain, if you will. And I don't know many people who like to spend much time in that space. A wise friend once told me that we should never entirely rule out the possibility - but in order for the possibility to exist, we have to be open to it and engage it.

If you could engage any possibility right now, what would it be?

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