the glorious interconnectedness of all things 3

Somehow, I think I managed to delete this and so have reloaded it. Not quite sure what I’ve done, but I’ll try not to do it again.

In the first of this loosely connected series of posts, I wrote about leaks, exploring how a poker concept can be illuminating elsewhere in other aspects of my life. In the second, I explored some similarities between writing a math paper and writing a story. Here, I would like to start digging into connection in a bit more generality.

In my Book of Many Lists, I have written down the phrase administrative connection. This phrase came into my head uninvited during a recent meeting (one of many), when I was hit by the nagging feeling that however interesting was our conversation (and it was interesting), I couldn’t see the path between our conversation and the implementation of the change we were talking about.

This struck me as a different aspect of this general idea of connection that I’d written about some long time ago, namely about how the idea of connection we use in aikido, and specifically working within the grasp, is so much more widely applicable. In aikido, we have an advantage, as often being grasped is a tangible, physical thing, whereas in other contexts, the grasp is much more of an ephemeral concept. But nonetheless, there are still the constraints that we have to recognize and within which we must work, in the administrative setting as well as in the dojo.

In my aikido thinking and practice, there is a clear path (or rather, many clear paths) between the initiation of the movement, even before the grasp itself, and the end of the movement, with uke thrown or pinned. But in the administrative sphere, I find it easy sometimes to be captivated by the end goal, and not to spend enough time thinking through, working through the details of getting from beginning to end.

There is a different aspect of administrative connection as well, and one that goes back to yet a different thing I’ve written about before. This is the notion of distance. When teaching, be it math or aikido, I have worked hard to build into my teaching practice this observation that as I teach and practice, my understanding deepens, whereas my students always start as beginners, and so the distance between me as teacher and the beginner can only increase over time, and requires work to bridge.

The relationship of this to connection is that the greater the distance, the greater the difficulty in creating and cultivating and maintaining the connection. To overcome this inevitable and unavoidable difficulty requires care and attention, and practice.

In ways I’ve (unaccountably) only started thinking about, the same applies to the administrative sphere. Practice and exposure increase distance, and increasing distance makes connection more difficult, and so creates the expectation and the need for those with the practice and experience to actively work to bridge this distance and to constantly cultivate this connection.

At the risk of making a bit of a right turn into the weeds, this brings to mind an analogy of the administrative and governance of any organization. Governance is like unto an iceberg, where only a small piece of the processes of governance are generally visible. This is both inevitable and necessary, I think, because proper governance is complicated and multifaceted; it’s both formal and informal, and it takes time and energy to keep track of everything going on.

I haven’t yet through just how appropriate this analogy actually is, but I think it has some life to it. Of course, part of having an analogy is an aid to understanding, and this one clearly needs some refinement, but perhaps that’s for another day.

There are other aspects to connection and interconnectedness that I’ll keep working my way through; for me, each time I write, I feel I’m climbing a bit higher up the mountain, and the view I get, clouds notwithstanding, is that little broader. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for taking this journey with me.

~ by Jim Anderson on 16 March 2021.

2 Responses to “the glorious interconnectedness of all things 3”

  1. This is a thought slightly connected to this post. The BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL (weekly) runs a page of abstracts from other journals, including in the last issue a fascinating study from NATURE showing that people (I don’t know if this means all people, or people with a western-type education) tend to try to solve problems by adding stuff, rather than by removing stuff. Connections are hugely important, but sometimes efficiency is best served by fewer simpler connections…

  2. […] I can weave. This is the fourth in a series; I include here links to the first, the second and the third, for any who might be interested, pulling together observations from one area of my experience and […]

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