It sometimes seems like the more you seek – and we are really all seekers, aren’t we? – the less you find. Or at least the more confusing it gets. Wisdom is like that, clever woman that she is.
Take, for example, the following:
Stop and smell the roses.
It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, as long as you don’t stop.
The best things in life are free.
You get what you pay for.
Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.
Misery loves company.
You’re never too old to learn.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
The more, the merrier.
Two’s company; three’s a crowd.
You can read innumerable books and blogs, or watch countless videos talking about how slowing down is the key to a successful life, the do another quick search and find just as many that tell you the way to succeed is to work 24/7 and focus, focus, focus.
So, you know, how in the world do you know which way is the right way?
That’s the problem, actually. We’re all looking for the one right answer. And yes, we’re pretty sure that there is a “right” one.
Except maybe there isn’t.
Life isn’t either/or. It never has been.
Life is always “both”.
Both joy and sorrow. Both ups and downs. Both success and failure, good and bad, this and that.
Life is both, and that’s okay. We’re all adults here and I think we can can handle it.
Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald said that “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.”
In other words, if you can accept the creative tension of a paradox without your head exploding or having to lie down, you’ve tapped into a bit of wisdom.
And where there is wisdom, there’s the opportunity for both acceptance and love. Which is sort of what life is all about.
Life is also “and”.
‘And’ is a powerful word.
As Richard Rohr says in his book “The Naked Now” (2009):
“And” teaches us to say yes
“And” allows us to be both-and
“And” keeps us from either-or
“And” teaches us to be patient and long-suffering
“And” is willing to wait for insight and integration
“And” keeps us from dualistic thinking
“And” does not divide the field of the moment
“And” helps us to live in the always imperfect now
“And” keeps us inclusive and compassionate toward everything
“And” demands that our contemplation become action
“And” insists that our action is also contemplative
“And” heals our racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism
“And” keeps us from the false choice of liberal *or* conservative
“And” allows us to critique both sides of things
“And” allows us to enjoy both sides of things
“And” is far beyond any one nation or political party
“And” helps us face and accept our own dark side
“And” allows us to ask for forgiveness and to apologize
“And” is the mystery of paradox in all things
“And” is the way of mercy
“And” makes daily, practical love possible
“And” does not trust love if it is not also justice
“And” does not trust justice if it is not also love
“And” is far beyond my religion versus your religion
“And” allows us to be both distinct and yet united. (pp. 180-181).
When we choose ‘both/and’ instead of ‘either/or’, we choose compassion. We choose to understand. We choose to include. We choose acceptance.
We choose love.
And we choose wisdom.
tweetables:“Everything can be a that; everything can be a this.” (~Chuang Tzu)
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