Edinburgh from above.
Bordeaux from above.
The other day I flew from Edinburgh to Bordeaux and took a photo of each from the plane.
These images immediately make me think of the concept from classical philosophy…”the view from above”, or “the view from on high”. It refers to the practice of standing back and taking an overview. It’s useful when we feel we can’t see the wood for the trees and when we want to see anything in its contexts…the contexts of time, space, environment, culture etc.
I often found this helpful for people who were experiencing high levels of anxiety or grief. Standing back a bit to see the bigger picture helps us to regain our stability when we are feeling a bit wobbly. That bigger picture might be the sweep of an era, spread over many decades, or it might be seeing the connections between whatever we are focused on and the global reality.
It’s important to consider details too, of course, and that’s the other pole – the ability to see the individual uniqueness of each moment, event, or person. But taking the “view from above” is, I would argue, equally important.
Think of that classic image of the earth rising over the horizon of the moon. Didn’t the sight of that beautiful, fragile, small blue marble hit us right between the eyes? Didn’t it make us realise that the Earth and all of us living on it is a single, living, vibrant whole?