Sunday, March 16, 2008

So what is reflecting?

Artist: Pat de Groot

As a writer, I often start my own contemplation from a creative perspective. And to begin examining reflection I talked with a couple of painter friends about reflections. The connection between reflection and light is one that hit a chord for me. There is a connection between considering the importance of light in a reflection in nature (or a painting) and the act of reflecting being an act of casting some light on a situation you have experienced.

In talking with these painters I discovered there are other connections to be made. Learning to paint a reflection, paint the impact of light is a basic painting technique learnt by all student painters. When I raise the issue of reflecting with my students, I always link it to being a basic skill they must learn to be able to move on and effectively critically analyse. In a more practical setting in human resources I also always described reflection as a critical skill which practitioners need to practice habitually, to be able to fully develop as a practitioner.

Like the art of learning to paint though, reflection and the casting of light, is not a simple skill to learn. It is not material. It is not simple to describe. It is not solid or shaped.

A lesson from maths reminds us that reflection is a map that transforms an object into its mirror image. It is transformative. It is a mirror image - not a pure image.

In writing, reflection is contemplation with a conscious intent. Observing and interpreting what you observe - and continuing that observation and interpretation on the impact of any event, or even of the reflection itself. Perhaps as endless as light appears to be in masterful painting.

Dear Student: You can see why reflection is not easily taught. Like a student painter though, you can take the tools you have and practice. It is in the practicing that the reflection begins, and moves and grows and takes a life of its own. Remember the last posting - perfection is not part of the journey or the journey's end.

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