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Conundrums and Contradictions

Lately, my life has been filled with contradictions, situations in which inconsistent elements are present. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. From time to time, I find myself returning to this exact spot.

I have come to understand that, like most things in my life, these periods will ebb and flow. Meaning, while I may currently find myself in an uncomfortable, uncompromising, or unknown situation with no easy answer or way out, eventually the tides will turn, and clarity and connection will flow back into my life.

But lately, it feels like I have been marooned on the isle of contradiction, with no flow in sight.

I think that Ann Morrow Lindbergh captured this feeling best:

We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of time and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible in life, as in love, is in growth, in fluidity—in freedom.

Yes indeed. Not only do I insist on permanency, duration, and continuity, I cling to it. Which I realize, and fully acknowledge, only makes matters worse.

Nevertheless, finding myself in this position yet again, I was convinced, having uttered my new favorite all-purpose prayer, “Let be. Let go. Let in. Thank you,” I could let go and let fluidity in, thereby finding my way back to the flow of clarity and connection. I even hedged my bets by invoking one of my favorite Rumi quotes:

What you seek is seeking you. The true reality is right in front of you, though hidden.You need only turn on the light of awareness, banish the illusions, and find peace in wisdom.

What I was seeking was seeking me. I was seeking growth, fluidity, clarity, and connection and those things were seeking me. Perfect. “Here I am,” I declared.

But nothing happened, nothing began to move, nothing began to flow. I found myself staring out the window, perseverating on conundrums and conjunctions. Wait, not conjunctions, contradictions. But surely, I thought, humming the Conjunction Junction song from Schoolhouse Rock, conjunctions were more fun … hooking up words and phrases and clauses. So, I began hooking them up myself:

happiness and sadness live and learn gain and loss up and down

in and out fast and furious love and light high and low

up and coming down and dirty to and fro before and after

rock and hard place now and forever here and there near and far up and down good and bad now and then black and white

back and forth yin and yang bread and butter slowly and carefully

this and that yes and no

Clearly the liner notes of my life.

This and that. Yes and no. Conjunctions, an instance of two or more events or things occurring at the same point in time or space. “But wait,” I thought, “isn’t that a paradox—a self-contradictory statement or proposition that may be well founded or true? Two things at the same time?”

I had worked my way down a rabbit hole, and nothing was getting any clearer. I tried to walk away, but conundrum, contradiction, conjunction, and paradox kept following me. I just could not shake them. I tried to reason with them. “Does it really matter anyway,” I asked? “Maybe yes and maybe no,” was the only answer I could come up with. Argghhh!!!

Maybe yes and maybe no. A self-contradictory statement or proposition that may be well-founded or true. An instance of two or more events or things occurring at the same point in time or space. So, I tried again “Let be. Let go. Let in,” I prayed “Let be,” and reminded myself not to define or name. I prayed “Let go,” and reminded myself not to control or choose. I had my answer before I even got to “Let in.”

What I had been trying to do was to reconcile the inconsistencies in my life to restore continuity. But whose continuity? I was stuck in place because I felt I had to choose to move my life forward. This or that. But that is never really the case, is it? We don’t choose one thing and leave another behind. We carry both forward with us.

And there it was. Life itself is the grandest paradox there is. A great big yes and, a contradictory statement or proposition that may be well-founded or true. Where the only possibility is in growth, fluidity, and freedom.

Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually,

without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. —Rainer Maria Rilke

I hope to.


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