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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Space Between

T.H.ursday's with Tom Hill

There's a seam between perspectives. It's a thin thing that's barely noticeable. Normally, you wouldn't pay it any attention unless someone pointed it out. Even then, when looking straight at it, you might not see the seam. You're familiar with one side and certainly know the other. What's in the middle, the seam, is hardly familiar, certainly not well known.

 It's hard to see, but it's were the real action is. It's where great ideas come from. Things you don't normally notice come to light from that place. It's the place creatives access for their inspiration. It's a place that has a truth but rationally may not make sense. There's a truth there that probably doesn't feel right either. Yet, it's the truth. It's this place 'between' that is the source of breakthroughs. 

I know people wonder how we get in tune with our creative sides. Creativity isn't that difficult. Doing new and different isn't that hard. We had great access to it when we were kids. We were creative with finger paint, playing with rocks, doing crazy dances for no reason. There were no bounds to creativity when we were kids. Somewhere on the path to being older we lost that connection to creativity. We unlearned being artists.

As Pablo Picasso famously quipped:

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." 

Somehow along the way, the boundless artistry of a child becomes bound. Once, they weren't self-conscious about what they did, but new teens are soon concerned about what everyone else was doing. Once, playing in the mud and dirt was a normal thing. Now, getting wet in the rain running from car to school is a big deal.

 At first straight lines didn't matter. Soon coloring inside the lines - conformity - becomes a requirement. We all know this. We all know all these details, yet we all wonder about being creative. Why does knowing the symptoms not lead to answers? Perhaps it's because the most important symptom isn't seen. We can't see that place 'between'. We can't even recognized it nowadays because we're so disconnected from it. Yet, we used to live there all the time when we were young.

It might help if I described this place 'between' with a few more details. Literally, it's the place between positions. It's the place between the rational mind and the feeling heart. It's the place between order and confusion. It's the place between euphoria and pain. It is the place where Yin and Yang meet, where hot and cold merge, where black continues into white. It's a place that's difficult to define because we tend to live on one side of or the other - we do not live on it. Yet, when we were kids, there were no lines. When we were younger, we lived oblivious to borders.

Now, those seams define our lives yet we have no idea they exist. We tend to live on one side of seam or the other. Instead of seeing something where the sides come together, we only see a gulf when looking towards the other side. The gulf appears impassible and distinct. We are so firmly rooted in our side that we are surprised to find our side cannot exist without the other. Light can not live separately from dark. Black is defined by white. Good only exist because of evil. There would be no life without death. Without the joining of the two sides, neither side would exist. That seam, the space 'between', is important.

Why is this place important? Because recognizing and living on the seam, holding both sides as valid simultaneously, gives rare insight. It gives a view of the world others firmly rooted on their own sides can't see. It's like being on an earth where everyone only knows their side and therefore thinks the earth is flat. There is no crossing over. There is no other perspective. Yet you, in that space 'between', can see the earth is not flat. There is life beyond that boundary. It's like knowing there are three dimensions in a world full of people who are only aware of two dimensions.

I'm bringing this up because there is much magic that can happen when you live on that seam, in the place 'between.' When working a big project and you get stuck on a yes or no question, perhaps there's a better position than simply answering yes or no. Perhaps there's a more insightful perspective than simply sitting on one side of the seam versus the other.

Today's day and age is full of challenge some of which our previous training has us ill-prepared to deal with. In our aviation world, there's an assault on how we train, what's required for qualifications, for what's expected of us. The assault is led by many who have no perspective of the intricacies of aviating, yet their threat is real. Without burying our craniums in the sand, what can one do when things such as a common language might not exist. The easy answer is to be creative--to imagine what's not possible. But, what's that? Well, perhaps sitting on that seam, operating where the perspectives shift is the position where creativity can spring forth, to see solutions where none were available before.

The challenge is to avoid being firmly rooted on one side or the other, to see those spaces 'between' for solutions to vexing problems This thought process is only a model. The model is not the 'truth' in that truth comes in many forms. Thinking about that seam, where the space 'between' lives, will definitely give you insight you didn't have previously.


Note: Photos are from Toms trip to Bosque Del Apache NWR in Central NM


  1. Tom, Thank you for another great post. I view this seam as a line some walk...and others stand back and look at. Oh...did I tell you that line is a high wire at times? Sometimes it's a scary place to walk with the fear of failure and falling. Kids don't start out fearing failure. The don't hold judgment.

    We adults fear doing something for how people will view us. But there is something powerful by not fearing because you do access that creative part of your mind... you train it how to think outside the box. To problem solve.

    This might be one of the most important keys to success when we run up against problems. If we've trained our minds to walk that seam, and learn to not fear... we can solve anything.

  2. We are perfect because we are imperfect.

    This is what differs each individual. Creativity pushes innovation. That's why we can achieve our goals, because we can believe in ourselves, and if you don't believe and worry too much, you will probably won't get there.

    Finding the grey scales of black and white leads us to better handle. Finding the answer when you only have "yes" or "no" leads us to diversity.

    Creativity pushes innovation and diversity. Our society is not being told to be more open minded. Internet contributes on this problem. Our teenagers are becoming too hedonistic and indifferent to crucial aspects in life.

    Because of what you said, that seam, some people can achieve because they see and believe, and some people cannot see because they don't have what it takes to see. And to learn how to see is a challenge.

    You can only achieve things if you have the courage, if you believe, if you are willing to learn during the journey, if you are keen on believing in your values... These are all part of the seam too.

    This seam is present in many aspects of life. If you have a good product, someone can see a better idea and create a better product... And it goes on and on...

    Being open creative and open minded is easy. You just need to open yourself to lessons and experiences and discover how to adapt and deal with them.

    Epic post!

  3. Wow! That is about all I can think of right now. I really wanted to read something like this right now. This is truly one of the most insightful things I have read in a long time.

    Walking the seam is definitely something most of us adults have to relearn. I now hope that maybe I can keep my kids from ever losing sight of it. Right now they are adventurous and brave and creative. I hope they never lose that.


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