Totally Out of Context

Today I tell my students we will work together to revise their essays.  

To revise means “to see again.” When we see our writing “again,” we gain a fresh look, from a new perspective, and recalibrate what’s not working.

One method of revision involves taking writing out of context and re-reading it in a completely different form.  Maybe the font has changed; maybe the paragraphs are separated by huge chunks of white space; maybe the text appears on a computer screen and not on a piece of paper.

We gain a new perspective by changing the context.  And we get somebody else to see it with us; new eyes add a new context.  Suddenly errors emerge so clearly we wonder why we could never see them ourselves. 

As I think about learning to revise my day–to find peace, beauty, happiness, and hope–I often need to find a new context.  I joke with my family (when I’m especially frazzled and moody) that there’s just got to be flair in this!  When I find a new context for interpreting what’s going on around me, I’m not as stuck as I think I am.  My circumstances don’t have to determine how I’m seeing this day.  Disappointment doesn’t own this day or my mood.

I’m going to take the disappointment, the fuss, the trouble out of context and see it all differently. 

What would my day look like from another person’s perspective–a person from another country, another economic situation, or a different political system?  Would they complain about what I complain about? Would they fret over what I fret about?  The error is exposed: I’m acting entitled, ungrateful, and self-centered. 

One person’s fuss is another person’s flair. 

If I’m dominated by negative emotions today, maybe I need to change the context, see with fresh eyes (with the help of God and others), and revise.  I pray that I can take my life out of its settled context and see clearly and honestly. 

Living with flair means I take my experiences totally out of context.

(photo by Jez’s flickr)

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