162 – Whole

Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.

I like walking on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I walked this morning and just finished lunch. During my morning walk, thoughts about “the big picture” were tumbling around my brain. Those morning thoughts are coalescing because I am sitting on the 11th-floor balcony looking at the beach and the sea.

From high above the beach, I can see the long expanse of sand where I walk. I see a beach with tire tracks of the beach patrol and strings of footprints – but I cannot tell which are mine. All that beach sand, but I cannot see one single grain. Not one – but I know there are many. Besides, that is common knowledge, and I was there a short time ago.

As I look from above, the area of dunes separating the buildings and the beach, I see shrubs and sea oats holding the dune in place, but differentiating and identifying individual stems is difficult. However, the long dune area and its plants parallel to the beach are obvious.

I saw many shells on my morning walk, and I anticipate seeing more during my walk in the opposite direction this afternoon. But from here, not only can I not see one shell, I am unable to positively identify a dense patch of shells – but maybe over there. Maybe! However, as I look at the long stretch of sand, I can see the wrack line, and I know shells will be there.

Today the sea is calm and relatively smooth. Although I can see and hear the waves coming ashore, the smoothness of the water extends to the horizon. Maybe not as a smooth countertop because of the rolling swales, but the scene provides an eclectic design of similar shades of blue with a sparkling streak caused by the sun. The streaks appear as a meandering river with tributaries for reasons I do not know. Streaks that don’t appear to be moving, but I know they are.

Some colors of the sea are different closer to the shore. That sandbar is obvious – and that one too. I wonder if that dark patch is a cluster of seaweed. But when I walk, the water is emerald green – not the blue I see from this balcony.

The sound from up here is different than when I walk. The sound of individual waves is less distinct. The sound is more steady with slight changes in volume. To me, the sound is more stereophonic – and as a sound moving left to right, but sometimes right to left. The sound from the 11th floor is more soothing – less brash and less jolting than along the shoreline.

I see the white foam washing onto the sand and then retreating to the sea. The white foam appears as a white collar on a blue shirt. But I cannot see the individual bubbles or hear their gentle pops that touched my feet earlier. Yet, I know they are there.

I’m above the birds that I see in flight, yet notice a seagull’s shadow on the sand flying near the waterline. There seems to be a sole pelican floating on the water far offshore. No way can I see the small sanderlings and their fast feet.

I write this long introductory view to share a conceptual view – the whole – the big picture.

Going from the big picture to the details is similar to using a tool such as Google Earth. First, we see the planet with the surrounding black background of space. We see land, water, and patches of clouds – plus identify continents and certain countries by their shape.

As we zoom closer, we can identify states or regions – even rivers, mountains, large lakes, and deserts. Continuing to zoom in, we can identify a city or town. Once closer, we see our neighborhood, then our street, and eventually our house with a car in the driveway.

Although details are important, so is the big picture because that is where learners make important connections.

How often do we get down into the weeds of details, yet forget the big picture? The Periodic Table of Elements views a neutral atom of aluminum with 13 protons and 13 electrons located in three shells with three of the electrons found in the outer shell – but that view is not about the importance of the aluminum can and its role in our society.

As a former biology teacher, I know biology classes are known for being very vocabulary-driven – providing numerous details and exposing more new words to students than the foreign language class down the hall. We get caught up in terms such as replication, centrioles, asters, prophase, anaphase, metaphase, and telophase – all words I have never heard outside my classroom. That focus is not that in order to create two new cells, chromosomes must replicate, line up in the center, then move apart into two new cells that are identical to the original – so now let’s learn about growth and cancer that certainly is in the news and student experiences.

There is an appropriate time for going deep into the weeds of details, but being able to make connections across the main concept is important to the general public. Whereas I’m looking at the broad concept of what I see, all the individual units act as an ensemble. I think of what I see as a symphony played by an orchestra of many instruments that work together to produce a masterful performance.

The big picture is a conceptual view that is fundamental to understanding breadth and depth. Today, I tried to demonstrate that with a view from the 11th-floor balcony. Meanwhile, it’s time for my afternoon walk in the opposite direction on the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

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74 thoughts on “162 – Whole”

  1. Wow, from the details to the complete affair!
    And when it comes to planet earth and the universe, we peeps who think we are important, are but mere specks! Nevertheless, if we weren’t there and a lot more were not there, well, things might look different!

    Whole…yes, that also means complete.
    Thanks for another interesting post, and sorry I was absent at your previous one… have my plate full of busyness…but I am nibbling away at it one bit at a time, till the ‘whole’ thing is done…getting my home ready for Christmas and working and being a hubby -taxi…and visiting a few blogs here and there…oh and cleaning up snow; heavy wet stuff this past afternoon…little and large flakes, making a whole mess of the roads… I guess you don’t miss that one bit!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ingrid,
      No worries about not visiting. Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging …. and the holiday season has a way of doing that! Meanwhile, in the grand theme, we are mere specks …. and that’s mind-blowing even to consider!

      Seems this post was timed with your weather! The white stuff missed us, you we had a dash of it in November. None since, but wwe may see a little this weekend. More importantly, I appreciate your presence here.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Merril,
      Thank you … glad you enjoyed this. There’s no question that in life we need both the big picture and the details. It’s the details by the musicians that deliver excellence in music. It’s the details of the artist that make it work. It’s the details at the research level that bring forth new knowledge. Ye, those details also must fit into the big picture. Hope you had a good weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I never was much good at Biology at school but I can certainly appreciate the aspects of detail as well as the overall big picture. And perhaps it’s the big picture that’s the most important of all. Beautifully written post Frank with lots to ponder on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Miram,
      Glad you enjoyed the look at the big picture. Stimulating thoughts to ponder is always on of my goals, so your words deliver a message of success to me. 🙂 In life, we know there are times for details and times for the big picture. To me, the later allows us to make many connections. Then again, the details are the links. How all is well with you down under as you move into summer.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Seeing the big picture and wondering about the details came to mind this week when I saw the pictures NASA released from the Orion Spacecraft. Seeing the Earth as a tiny object in space made me think about those differences in perspective. Great post, Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was going to say I’ve never seen a beach from the 11th floor of a building! Your description gave me a lot to think about how things look from that perspective. But then I remembered the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, which is 252 feet tall. The view of the town and the surrounding ocean from the top was spectacular, as I recall. It’s fascinating remembering and comparing the pig picture with the details found in the close-ups.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barbara,
      Glad you enjoyed my images. It is a beautiful beach, and it’s out on that balcony where I first thought about this essay. There from the upper floors of a building or from a tower’s observation deck, or from high above looking down from inside an airplane, the big picture view stimulates many thoughts that the details can help answer. Thanks for walking along.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. In our diverse world it’s almost impossible to see the whole, Frank. While watching the video I had Lapland and the aurora borealis running on the TV. It’s all incredibly interwoven and complex, isn’t it? Little short of a miracle, in fact.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Frank, you are still a biology teacher.
    It’s like an old saying.
    You can take the biology teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the biology teacher.
    The big picture is important. The artist works diligently at a detail in their painting, perhaps an eye, or the glint in the eye. Then the artist steps way back to look at the whole painting. Is the glint in the right place? Is everything working together?

    Thank you for this whole post! Clink!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your bio posts are written so well for others not steeped in the sciences to understand that science helps us see we are all but a part of a whole. I treasure my university bio-days, thank you for reopening up the loveliness of Wholeness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura,
      You words created a smile at this end. Thank you. I know details are important, but sometimes I wonder if in general education if we spend too much time in the details at the expense of making meaningful learning connections. However, details have a place – and very much so! In my case, I try to write for my audience … not a scientific audience.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I can clearly remember my Dad after listening to me explain WHY I felt about something (anything) telling me that I must take time to see the WHOLE picture. I still think it’s important to acknowledge that the picture is larger than I personally can see it with all things. “Whole” is a pithy subject!!

    Pam

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I tend to focus on the fine details (mostly because I’m near-sighted) . I worked with a “big picture” boss. I had to become the voice of reason as he just didn’t recognize the effects of decisions at the lowest level!!! Both perspectives are important and when working together great things are accomplished!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Muri,
      Research lives in the world of details where all those little things matter … and lead us to new findings and discoveries. Yes – both perspectives are very important. I recall visiting a Procter & Gamble new research facility. Through out the facility were images of micrograhics (very close up and personal( and images from high altitudes. Facinating to see … and their reason was obvious …. research is in the details, but don’t lose sight of where it fits in. Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  10. Such a beautiful post Frank. Seeing the big picture is so important!
    love your thoughts always.. thank you!
    💗
    ” I think of what I see as a symphony played by an orchestra of many instruments that work together to produce a masterful performance.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cindy.
      Thanks for the kind words and walking along. The details at the instrument details working together to produce a beautiful symphony. And to think we attended a wonderful Cincinnati Pops Orchestra concert yesterday where U ciykd see the detaks in action. 🙂

      Like

    1. Laurie,
      Thank you for the kind words and for a thoughtful question. It’s an interesting thought to ponder. Making broad connections is probably easier for those attempting to see the big picture. Yet, I think about the K-12 years of schooling because it has a way of focusing on the details, therefore less about the connections … therefore a reason why people see such a small picture. Well, selfishness also influences that. Thanks for chiming in!

      Like

  11. On a whole, this post has the goods.

    The details can sometimes be messy, which is why so many peeps tend to shy away from them or procrastinate when it comes to tackling them. The big picture is less complicated to their way of thinking, I dunno.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marc,
      Thanks for the props on this walk. Let me toss a wrinkle into the big picture. Having a grasp of some details helps to bring the big picture into clearer focus …. or makes it deeper than one realizes. I say that because just the big picture won’t do it because it is also complex – just in a different way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. G’head Cincy!

        And yes it does. For some of us, it’s respect the details but do not steer too close or you might wreck. Keep it loose enough so’s you gain the perspective necessary.

        Something like that 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Sometimes the big picture is too much to understand, to justify. We concentrate on the moment in front of us but that perspective changes the closer we get to it and the farther away we are. So we remember. And by remembering we edit. It’s the big picture of the same for everyone? Absolutely not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pam,
      Not to my surprise, you’ve added another gem to the complexity of this topic. Great point about the perspective changes depending on being closer or farther away. Now toss in the fact that everyone comes to the table with different levels of knowledge about topics. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Big or small, the whole or the details, always important to see both Frank. Loved your description of all of the beach’s elements in addition to the big picture view. Although I don’t think of it that way it is indeed the way I see it. Excellent food for thought as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tina,
      Thanks for catching one of my points. It’s not just the view from the 11th floor, but I was intentionally tossing in the knowledge from one the beach. It’s that ability to zoom in and out to help bring the big picture into focus … then to discover its complexity. Wow!

      Like

  14. I have always tried to see the “50,000-foot view” of what a proposed solution might result in, how it might have a domino effect if implemented, etc. This post made me think of seeing that kind of big picture…seeing the whole picture. I then started thinking about how birds have such an advantage over us, especially when it comes to not only seeing what traffic they might encounter in the air but also we on the ground. Thanks for giving us the “whole” story, Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debbie,
      Glad you enjoy the views from the 11th floor of the beautiful beaches on the Panhandle. Most of the sand in these pictures are in Alabama, but Flordia is part of one of them. Away from the gloom of SW Ohio winter is wonderful. The Panhandle can be cold – but not matter how cold it gets, it will be warmer than home! Thanks for walking along.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Contemplation of nature and big picture/worldview are so important, Frank. I like that you encourage your readers to take time for this. Symphony is a great metaphor, because sometimes biologists encourage a mechanical view. 🙂

    Like

    1. Mary Jo,
      Thank you for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed the symphony metaphor … All those moving parts acting as one made sense to me. 🙂 Meanwhile, the view of the world can be made through many viewpoints … so then our knowledge or lack thereof and biases comes into play. Thanks for walking along.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. The wisest people I know, the ones I most admire, have a natural tendency towards remembering to take note of the big picture. I am sometimes surprised at how people can get mired in minutiae and completely lose sight of the goals, aims or ambitions that work toward the whole. I think your beach walks always give you perspective, Frank. Such valuable time!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The waves sound very relaxing, Frank. Lovely for you to take us on this walk and showing us the calm see. Looked like such a wonderful afternoon. Interesting to know that the waves sound different when you are at different areas around the beach. Sounds waves do bounce around depending on what’s around you. Agreed that the bigger picture is as important as the details. Sometimes we just have to step away to see the bigger picture. Sometimes when I walk on the beach and look out into the cast ocean, I feel so small in the scheme of things – that there are many more important things than focusing on getting the details perfect all the time. Hope you are doing well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mabel,
      Good to see you again. Your presence made me smile while reminding me I need to visit your anniversary post (which I did). 🙂 First of all, I must admit that the opening videos of sights and sounds at a beach are not mine – but from YouTube. However, in this case, the images (on this walk) are mine. I like providing the video to serve as a background while reading for those desiring it.

      Although I focused on the big picture in this walk, details are still important and definitely have a place. I see zooming in and out as a skill that demonstrates a greater understanding. You mentioned about feeling small when you walk on the beach – especially when looking across the water. Me too …. especially when I put the thought into a broader perspective. I invite you to read this past walk about perspective. https://beachwalkreflections.wordpress.com/2022/11/05/155-perspective/ Thanks for sharing and walking along.

      Like

      1. I like to think that your video of the beach was very similar to what you experience on some of your walks 🙂 It’s a good way to set the mood for reading your posts.

        Thanks for sharing that post, Frank. So agree that different populations and species are all interconnected in this ecosystem on Earth. Makes you realise both the details and wider perspectives are important. Always enjoy your beach walks and how you give us different things to reflect on.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Frank, when I read the title of your post I jumped in with both feet. Wow! You have covered the gamut of the big picture and all the parts that make up that picture. Yes, making connections is important, but seeing and exploring all the individual units that act together as an ensemble, is necessary to fully understand and appreciate ‘whole’. A symphony orchestra is a perfect example.

    Like

  19. Another good one, Frank! This time I loved seeing your view from the balcony, and the beautiful beach! I loved reading about what you see when you walk and what we know is down there, but then what we see from a distance in a new lovely perspective. The beach is so pretty, and this post definitely makes me long for a walk on the beach!

    Like

  20. Beautiful pictures, Frank. Nice to see where you take your walks and the different views. Gives us a picture – maybe not the whole – of why you go down there every winter…

    Liked by 1 person

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