Process and relationship

So, the world is not made up of things or objects, the world is made up of processes.

As a friend said to me overnight, “Even my job is a process not a thing. Sometimes I get frustrated when I hit roadblocks that seem to be stopping me from doing my job. But then I remember that this is my job — to negotiate the roadblocks. The roadblocks aren’t a barrier to my job, they are my job. My job is a process, not a thing.”

Gregory Bateson talked about this a lot. He would say that we talk about a hand as having five fingers, but actually it is the four relationships between the different pairs of fingers that is more interesting.

(For example, it is the very fact that our thumb is ‘opposable’ that is thought to have directly led to the development of tools.)

We say, “This table is hard” or “This pillow is soft”, but that isn’t really so. What we really mean is that “When my hand encounters this table it encounters resistance” and “When I push the pillow it feels soft.” It is the relationship, the process, between the hand and the table that matters.

The adjectives in our world are processes too, as well as the nouns.

(And, again, it is our interaction with the yellow duck that makes it seem yellow.)

The television series Friends was about six main characters, but it was the interactions between those characters that made the show interesting. Having six characters gave fifteen different ways of having two characters on screen, twenty different ways of having three characters on screen (three girls, three boys, two girls and a boy….), and so on. Each combination enabled the writers to bring out a different aspects of their characters. And more importantly, each combination brought out different aspects of the relationships between them.

Because, as Bateson pointed out, “All conversation between mammals is about relationship.”

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