Transcending Me for Us

Recently I watched A Late Quartet, a movie featuring Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir, and Imogen Poots. Though this movie is about musicians who have played together in a string quartet for 25 years, it's more than just music. It's about our deeper emotional connections found within the group experience.

If you've ever explored the work of family systems and the relationships within groups, you'll find this movie incredibly insightful.

People in groups usually operate according to roles they have either willingly or unwillingly agreed upon to make the system work. What happens when one person leaves the group? What happens when a new person joins? What happens when one person decides they don't like their role anymore? What happens when someone who is not needed by the group tries to insert themselves? What happens when someone doesn't want to change but the rest of the group does?

Life happens, power struggles ensue, and things change.

I think changing group dynamics is one of the hardest things for me to navigate. Many times the group I'm in will start moving in a new direction, and I'll be left in the dust because I'm still clinging to the way the group was a moment ago.

You can experience this changing group landscape at a work when a new boss or co-worker comes on the scene, when friends and family marry and give birth to kids, when organizations change their mission, when people divorce and find new love interests, when coaches retire, etc.

Any change to one member of the group and the whole balance is thrown off. It's like tossing balls up in the air and seeing where they land. New relationships and new ways may be established or old ones reaffirmed.

However, what I think A Late Quartet does so well is to show how group power struggles are based upon our egos desires and fears. Power struggles distance us from one another, foster hostility, and trigger fear. An environment that lacks trust and understanding will breed resentment, rebellion, resistance, and an unwilling compliance that ultimately erodes confidence in oneself.

Power struggles are about our personalities not our souls, and every once and a while a group can move beyond their egos to create transcendent experiences that were not made by ME but by US. In this state your ego is no longer engaged in a who's on top relationship and my way is the only way. Rather you experience the grace that comes along with compromise and sacrifice of the self for something greater than you could have done alone.

It is these transcendent moments that help us to remember our Divine relationship.

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