“The sum of all contradicting facts… Is truth.”

When I was in college doing undergraduate research, my PI told me a story once of the five blind men and an elephant. It goes something like this: Five blind men were all trying to identify the large object in front of them. Each claimed it was something different based on their direct observations (touching different parts and sides of the elephant). Ultimately while each one had valid and factual observations, none of the five correctly identified the object because they presumed that their facts were all the facts and ignored their peers’ observations because they did not (immediately) support their own. The lesson in the end is that we can have both valid observations and yet invalid conclusions if we assume that our observations are the only valid ones or that others’ observations aren’t. Or further, that understanding cannot be obtained with just one perspective. A fuller description and analysis of the parable can be found here.

Ever since then I’ve kept that story in the back of my head. It reminded me of what I refer to as “3D thinking”, which is just an analogy for seeing the world in a way that allows for the coexistence of local contradictions and at the same time a broader truth. However, thats not to say that “anything flies”. Rather, that truths and reality are more complicated than simple explanations; they often have many layers with different contributing factors and varying relationships to one another. When those amorphous layers get stacked on one another and the lens is zoomed sufficiently far out enough, the volume of truth begins to appear – and its probably a complicated, sometimes organic shape.

Its worth expounding on the idea of “3D conceptualization” because just as its impossible to observe truth in all its complexity and contradictions through one lens, or in one moment… its impossible to communicate it in a singular statement either. The concept of folding and unfolding layers of information to form compounding knowledge is something to discuss another time.

So thats how life is – especially where humans are concerned and the degrees of freedom and dimensions of choices are expansive. This one sentence encapsulates the dichotomy between our experience of truth and the truth itself that we’ll never be able to fully see through just one pair of eyes.

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