What caught my eye here?
Sure it was the redness of the leaves of the acer, but, what made them even more eye-catching was where the tree was growing, in the midst of luxuriant greenery.
The red contrasts with the green strikingly, so the acer does not just stand out because of its redness, but because of the environment in which it is growing. Had this acer been growing in a forest of acers, it would still have been striking, but this particular one, this individual tree growing in the village of Aubterre-sur-Drone, really captured my attention because it was growing amongst such green plants.
This highlights two important principles related to a focus on difference – contrast and context.
When we focus on difference we become more aware of both contrast (just how different this particular whatever is) and context (exactly where we are seeing the existence of whatever it is).
In other words, to really focus on the difference is not to see something in isolation, but in its relatedness. Contrast is a comparison between something and something else. Context is the place and the time where the something is being observed.
I think this is a point we often miss when we think of difference because there is a tendency to think that if we concentrate on individual uniqueness, we are isolating something, or somebody. I don’t think that is true, or at least, not necessarily true. To really see the uniqueness of anything we have to see it in its connectedness – in its situation, in its particular time and place, in its relationships to “other”.
To see you in your uniqueness, in your difference, I have to hear your story. I have to explore some of the myriad of links and connections you have in the world.
If I try to see you in isolation, I won’t fully see you.