The Land of Purposeful Paradoxes


“I have heard it said that heroism can be redefined for our age as the ability to tolerate paradox, to embrace seemingly opposing forces without rejecting one or the other just for the sheer relief of it, and to understand that life is the game played between two paradoxical goalposts: winning is good and so is losing; freedom is good and so is authority, having and giving; action and passivity; sex and celibacy; income and outgo; courage and fear. One doesn’t cancel out the other. Both are true. They may sit on opposite sides of the table, but beneath it their legs are entwined.”
Gregg Levoy from Callings: Finding and Following the Authentic Life

Paradox is defined as something that appears to contradict itself, two statements that say opposite things and yet are both true. Something that seems to contradict itself and when heard together form a Truth. If there is such a thing as Truth in the cosmos, one of the most interesting places to find truth is in a paradox because like we said in our definition of a paradox, a paradox contains multiple truths. We as humans tend to want to see things as either/or, black or white. We are often uncomfortable with two things being true. We tend to want things one-way or the other.

Do you have a FAVORITE paradox? Here are a few examples: “The more you learn, the less you know.” Or “The more things change, the more they stay the same”…. Or one of my personal favorites from Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.

This statement seems contradictory right? How can something be both?

Now lets listen for a moment to what Dickens had to say in the rest of that famous opening sentence… what we have been playing with is only the briefest introduction: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

Sounds like he was talking about our era, right?

When we can be with and even embrace the paradoxical nature of our world, we move beyond the either/or, black or white thinking that has in many ways created such havoc on the planet, so I invite you to ponder a few questions and share your thoughtful comments here as food for others to ponder:

You mean working hard is good and so is rest and relaxation? (This one is primarily for me to get. )

What are some of your favorite paradoxical statements or where you’ve found a vein of truth in a paradox out in life?

How could you see living in the Land of Purposeful Paradoxes empowering your life on purpose?

What insight or nugget of gold did you glean from this pondering that you could integrate into your life with action?