Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The ABCS: A Symmetry, Balance, Control

So I've been trying to get my life "under control" for some time now (a lifetime, to be quite honest). However, I've also been thinking about symmetry for quite some time now . . . first in terms of visual symmetry, but now in terms of other kinds of symmetry too. Breaks in symmetry really represent disruptions of a larger system, disjunctures in harmony, a lack of balance. They are also important signals (at least according to the quantum physics I've been reading) that something is amiss in one's theoretical framework.

"Let me answer your question using a symmetry argument. Symmetry is an important concept in science. You ask if I could combine my career with marriage, and yet very seldom is the same question asked of a man. That shows a lack of symmetry. Question: Is this lack of symmetry imposed by cultural differences or by nature itself? It seems to many that it has been imposed by tradition" (Weyland, 1984, p. 150).

Weyland, Jack. (1984). A new dawn. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company.

I was reminded of these musings when one of my clients today explained her thoughts about the problems created by "information asymmetry" in higher education as part of a paper she was writing. In thinking about education, I came to the conclusion that when we feel overwhelmed by the complexity of teaching, learning, or education in general, we attempt to "control" it by legislating it, wrapping it in policies and procedures, writing course syllabi, and assessing our efforts.

Then I started thinking about the movie, Space Camp--specifically, the scene where the female astronaut is in the gyroscope and is trying to "control" her situation, which is spinning out of control. The key to that situation was balance . . . in 3 dimensions.

It occurs to me that the same is true of life. It will ALWAYS be complex. It is IMPOSSIBLE to control it. Every time something changes in the system (which is constantly), imbalance is introduced in the system. It can feel chaotic, but the trick is to avoid the common response in which we instinctively try to impose order on the chaos by controlling it, and instead, allow ourselves to embrace the chaos, feel its rhythms, and eventually, realign the various dimensions of ourselves in such a way that we bring the various elements of the system back into balance (or harmony).

Musically speaking, we have to "listen" to our lives, and then seek to replace dissonance with the beautiful sound of resolving chords that restore harmony.

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