I watched the movie Now You See Me today with the teens. It’s a fun flick including four magicians – a street illusionist, hypnotist, escapist, and a card trickster who all work together to create something truly magical. It’s a joy ride of a mystery with action, robin hood themes, teamwork and a bit of a thrill ride with the FBI.
What it is not is an introspective analysis of what it means to be human.
Perhaps it is my mode of self-reflection at the moment, my take-aways were not about the magic, the illusion, or the criminal mystery. I was instead focused on the ideal that the whole is greater than its parts.
There is a quote meant to describe the power of illusions. “The closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see.” Illusions work because of distraction. You get the audience to focus on something else while the artistic manipulation is outside their focus. Bottom line, four magicians working together are very good at distraction. They create a more powerful illusion when working together as a team. They become greater than their individual contributions.
I think we are also a sum that is far greater than our individual parts added up together. This is another way of thinking about convergence. I think we reduce ourselves when we only reveal parts of ourselves to the world. When I am at a school function, am I only a parent? When I am at work, am I only defined by my title? When I am volunteering, am I only defined by things I support?
I know you know the answer already, I am all those things and more. There is an ebb and flow as to what is the face I am wearing in each situation. However, when it comes down to it, we are also always all of these things that make up our whole.
The fact that I am a mother has influence on the way I see the world and approach my work. The fact that I work in a volunteer-driven environment at work influences how I interact with people when I volunteer. Even if we only show one face to each environment we walk through, we are a whole that is influenced by all of our individual experiences.
This is the nature of being human – the be the sum of our experiences. It is another way of perceiving convergence. Identifying these disparate aspects of ourselves, embracing all of them, and recognizing that we can be greater than the sum of our parts is a powerful thought.
It might mean living out loud with all our parts. Even the messy ones that we often only show our best friends or spouses. I am beginning to think that if we can learn to do this, to see ourselves from farther back as a whole and not as individual parts. If we can empathize with all the trees, but truly see the forest… If we can do this, then perhaps we can get all of ourselves pushing or pulling in the same direction. We can become a team within ourselves that rows harder, faster, and in rhythm together.
We can become greater than the sum of our parts.
361 more days to go.