One of my favorite writers, Thomas Merton, wrote: “I travel toward my destiny in the belly of a paradox.”
I don’t know what my destiny is unless it is simply doing whatever I am doing at this time. But I love the word paradox because it reminds me that growth is not linear and we grow in some ways more than others.
Jerry Garcia, my favorite guitar player was this amazing person with incredible talents, and yet also died a drug addict. Such beauty and darkness in one person. It does not take a lot to see this in myself.
I once asked Jacob Needleman, my mentor, about my inconsistencies and he said “every stick has two ends” and another time, “the brighter the light, the darker the shadow.”
This time we are all going through can bring out the darker side of our beings, but it is also a time to see what the other end of the stick is like. For example, maybe I’m cold to someone I dislike, but then very compassionate to someone I love. Both are true and real. Once I accept that, then I can keep the closer. Instead of either/or thinking and I can work on both/and thinking.
To accept our darker side is the difficult path of knowing oneself. When a person gets out of denial about their darker side they can then work with it. But as long as it is hidden, we tend to project it out onto other people. Seeing these projections is also a good way to come to know yourself.
When I can accept my own paradoxes, then I can accept the paradox of others with less judgment and more compassion. That sounds like a worthy goal. It is also a practice of self-love.
During these challenging times, I try to remember another Merton quote I really resonate with: “You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”
I am trying to embrace the unknown future with courage, faith and hope. So can you. Join me if you like!
Merton also wrote: “The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.”
I went for a walk today and it was so nice to feel the sun and breeze on my face.