“A Dainty Morning Tea”
Handbuilt Clay, 2014
It is the presence of a true other that change can happen. The presence of the other reveals a different state of possibility, and so brings about an awareness of difference, and the confrontation of that difference. This means a choice has to be made, in relation of the self to the other. This means that the identity of the self, and conversely, the other, has been pointedly called into question: expand or ignore?
By ignoring, it is a choice not to include (the presence of the other).
By expanding, it is a choice to include (the presence of the other).
In both cases, the awareness of the other has already happened. The other in one’s life has already happened. The occurrence has already happened. The expanded self has already happened.
Now is the self ready to accept such an expansion?
And how would the self relate, name, cognise, make-sense, identify – such an encounter with the other?
Is the other a part of the self, the enemy of the self, a friend of the self, a different neutral other than the self, an other with the freedom to come and go, in relation to the self?
In a bounded universe, where is the self to go and where is the other to go, except be on the ground of the fabric of the same universe?
And that was how I woke up thinking about the other, differences, uniqueness, identity and the expanded self.
If change is growth and if growth is learning, then the presence of the other is the very necessary ingredient to catalyse discovery, and inspire innovative and expansive identities and therefore, the multiplicity of creative geniuses.
Complexities are sometimes inexplicable and sometimes comprehensible but it is the inexplicability that is necessary for the journey of the expansive self.
What is the mystery of the black hole and why do we tend towards it?
It could simply be the unknown. A dense unknown. And that’s what mysteries are about. They take us a step further into spaces and places that we would otherwise not go. Otherwise, we would stagnate in our own limited islands of self-information or identity.
My personal reconciliation to the presence of the other is a choice to discover and perhaps, name, or co-name the inter, with the other.
The bridges of meetings become terribly exciting and become the point of focal attention.
They require me to listen to the other. To the new language. A different voice. A very different perspective, a very different honoring of identity, because in the world of the other, I don’t yet have an identity.
In the world of the other, I do not yet exist because I am not yet able to locate myself in the language of the other.
I have become the other in the other, a stranger to myself.
And so, I start to feel lost, dislocated. I start to lose myself. I have to shed my own language to learn the language of the other. I have to lose my own identity. And this is a very vulnerable process.
How do I navigate this bridging then?
I would have to have my own language first. So that I can dialogue within. And then I have to learn the language of the other.
Throughout the process, both our languages change, get altered, get synchronised, get expanded.
The other and I are becoming a combined entity. The identity has started to become a unit, linked by the bridge: the inter.
And then suddenly, the communication flows between the self and the other. And there is uniqueness as well as fluidity. Sufficient differences, yet sufficient shared language, yet sufficient individual and independent growth in the self and in the other.
I think that’s my state of delightful, reconciled freedom.
That the self and the other are separate individuals, yet not in isolation, but both able to be expansive selves.
If the consciousness or the narrative of the self doesn’t grow, it essentially has stagnated in loops of the same narrative worked through different media.
The insights no longer reveal anything new. They just keep affirming what is already known. This process is comforting to the self, but there is no more growth. And there is no possibility of problem-solving out of the blind alleys either. Such a state finds the self in a maze.
To get out, one needs to get out.
Dare to get out of the maze of the comfort zone.
Open the door to let the other in, or get out to the worlds of others.
Remember, the worlds of others are already in existence, whether the self chooses to relate, to discover, to engage, be a part of the process of co-naming the inters of new languages, new cultures and new worlds.
I step out of the door of the self, into the world of multi-facedness, that are awaiting my greeting and awaiting my arrival.
What do I bring with me?
A heart no longer afraid of differences.
An ear who listens to the voice of the other until it is understood that my only utterance in the world of the other, should I desire to be a part of the other, is harmony.
A self being fully aware that all the parts are already whole.
A simplicity of desire to enjoy the getting to know the other.
It is beyond problem-solving.
It is beyond innovation.
It is beyond the diversity necessary for expansive growth.
It is simply about the marvel of the complexity of the incredible life, and especially the wholeness of being a human person.
The journey is vast as the eye of the mind can see, as vast as the observable universe, and vaster still.
It is a choir of all voices in all space-times. Perhaps this dialogue cannot even be heard but only felt, like feeling the presence of the unknown other, knowing that the existence of the other exists, even though one can’t hear a single word.
And perhaps that’s when I can truly see you looking at me, and see myself through your eyes.
And I wonder what that is, because you would also, hopefully, by then be wearing my lenses, looking at you.
Does that mean we meet each other in this place of exchange of lenses, in this space of exchange – only to see ourselves?
I am in you looking at me and you are in me looking at you, looking at me, looking at you.
How many worlds do we inter-relate and inter-communicate in such a true gazing of mutual reciprocity?
A gazing, perhaps, not of answers or making-sense, but of simply living. Enjoying the voices and flow of the universe flowing through our every interaction.
Enjoying the cacophony as the music of life and the interactions as the dance of life; all jiving to the fabric of unity of the universe.
The space that can hold both the voice of the self and the voice of the other. The space that can hold the dialogue between the two, until both voices are truly understood by the two strangers.
That space is of waiting. It is a faithful patience. Faith that eventually both will converse and then sing together in each of the individual voices. Patience is knowing that time and space are necessary for every encounter between strangers.
Sometimes the dialogue pauses. Sometimes the dialogue breaks. Sometimes the dialogue repairs. Sometimes the dialogue doesn’t continue, ever. But the hope is always there, that the invisible inter does always exist, and it is only by a reaching out – one single utterance into the cold silence, which when is received by the other, is heard and understood.
And maybe, what is received back might just not be an echo, but a true choiceful utterance by the other instead. Because it is in the true closing of the gap between two, that what is uttered may finally be heard and understood as to what is really said.
And for me, if there is a true dialogue between two, I think both are saying – you know, I do love you. In however it is said, because if the other is making an effort to really be present and speak the truth of the matter, then there is already a deep care about building the interspaces of the relationship.
Otherwise, it would just be an echo or a silence that the one speaking will hear back. That is if you think about it all, in the way I am thinking about it.
It is rather lonesome talking to oneself even in the sanctuary of the self. And so, that is why, I think, it makes more sense to truly dialogue with another.
And take that chance of hearing something different, a little peculiar maybe, a little awkward in strange unexpected pauses, and hopefully, thoroughly perplexedly intoxicating. It is most likely an exquisite, exhilarating discovery of how two strangers become friends, in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Much better than dead silence or unintelligible echoes in a stony cave.
Co-Founder & Director
Human Engagement Studio Pte Ltd
June 14, 2019