“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
I must admit to some fascination with paradox. It seems to be an intrinsic part of the human condition.
Here we are, living a life in which the evening news is always bad and getting worse, aches and pains plague us (or our loved ones), there’s not enough money and too many bills, it’s hard to get through another day with all the stress and work and worries. And yet the sky is gorgeous, the smile on the face of a loved one sparks your own grin, a child’s laughter is contagious and there is less war and starvation now than in most of human history. How can this be?
As my partner likes to say, “It’s either all a miracle, or none of it is.” He leans toward the miracle theory as do I. That means our suffering is part of this miraculous life. Not in a “suffer for your sins” reward-and-punishment sort of way. In my view, it’s more like the problems we face in life offer us the potential to grow, to rise to the challenge and to become stronger.
We humans like to blame our own problems on these external factors. We’d be kinder if others were nicer to us. We’d be more generous if we had plenty to share. We’d go out of our way to use our gifts to serve the world if only there was more time in the day.
How about tapping into the paradox that you live, and doing it anyway? Be kind just because you know it’s a positive choice. Give what you have in abundance, even if it’s smiles and high fives rather than cold hard cash. Follow your callings, making them a priority over the things that can wait like watching that ever-negative evening news.
Accept that you live in a safe universe even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. It’s both safe and dangerous. Know that just driving to work or the store is a risk, but at the same time you are part of this complex web of life, and even when you die you’ll still be part of it in some way. Take inspired action even when you’re afraid that you’re not good enough or ready enough or talented enough.
Embrace your fears and go for your dreams anyway.
Accept that there is both light and dark, positive and negative, love and fear, ecstasy and pain in this world we inhabit. Make the choice to follow your intuition and do what feels best to you in each moment. When you are suffering and can’t go on, take a break. Relax, lie in the hammock, hide under the covers. Then get back up and join the game again.
Life doesn’t have to be one thing or another in order to be valuable. It doesn’t have to make sense – and honestly, it often doesn’t. Life has death and cancer and violence and racism and poverty. It also has birth and lovemaking and courage and friendship and abundance.
And love, so much love.
Look around. Embrace the paradox. Do what you’re called to do to help make the world a better place in your own unique way. Be kind to others, whether they return the favor or not.
Do what you love. Avoid the evening news. Rock on.