This morning I am thinking about paradoxes.
(I have to ignore the absurdity of this in the hopes of finding some profundity beneath. Because absurdity is deadly serious business.)
The more I teach, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I teach.
We all know the chestnut about the beginning of wisdom being the acknowledgement that we know nothing; I think that’s true, but not the end of it, because I don’t think humility is the end of wisdom. The desire to observe and consider, rather than jump to conclusions, is wisdom, but not, I think, the only wisdom. Along with that, though, is this: the smarter one is, the more one does not know; because one measure of intelligence is potential, and the more potential one has, the more capacity — meaning the more empty space in the mind can be filled up with knowledge.
I knew I was in love when I wanted nothing from her, but I wanted everything of her. When I wanted to be everything for her.
Suffering pain makes us stronger; suffering through another’s pain makes us softer. And you must be strong to be soft.
Learning hurts. And hurting makes us learn. (Not always, in either case. But not never.)
It is life that kills us, and death that makes us live. Endlessness is the end of all.
Here are a few more: I want this post to be thought-provoking, but it’s not; it’s glib and silly. I didn’t spend time thinking about these and exploring the underlying contradictions, I thought of clever ways to say them. Because I couldn’t think of anything to write about, while at the same time I have a dozen things I could write about: and all those ideas I could be writing about gang up and block the exits, so no other ideas can get out. This is what actually causes writer’s block: it’s not that you run out of ideas, it’s that you have too many ideas you need to write about but don’t want to, because they’re boring or repetitive or challenging for you, for some reason.
It’s not just writing, either. I want to get better at teaching, and I want to stop teaching entirely. I want to read all the time, yet I want to do mindless things. I want to be mad at myself for it, but I don’t want to be mad at myself. I want to be motivated, but I don’t want to work.
It’s okay, because I’m young: but I’m not. I’m middle-aged at best, and probably likely past that. So it’s not okay that I want to waste my time, MY time, doing things that I myself don’t think are important or valuable.
And it all comes back to the same place, doesn’t it? There are truths that I don’t want to face. When I teach paradox, I tell my students that most paradoxes are resolvable; they are only paradoxes taken from a specific point of view. But if you change your perspective, the paradox is not actually a contradiction. One classic example: to have peace, you must prepare for war. This is only a paradox if you think of “peace” as the total absence of even violent potential; but clearly such a state doesn’t exist. If we mean “peace” to be a lack of a certain scale of conflict, then we’ve had peace in this country for a long time. (That’s not to say we are at peace; I would generally argue that this country is a war-mongering nation and has never been at peace. But the point is about the contradiction, which is only paradoxical with an exaggerated standard for “peace.”) The truth is that at least the potential for war, and also the fact of some violence at least on the scale of police work or violent self-defense, are necessary because of the nature of humanity, which does not allow for perfect “peace.”
It’s only a paradox because we don’t want to face the truth.
The truth is that I fear these blogs are pointless and glib, because I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what to say, nor a lot of time writing them carefully. I don’t always write them in the morning, sometimes it’s the night before, but rarely do I think about them much before sitting down to the keyboard. The kindest comparison (Dunno if it’s apt) is that they’re like jazz improvisations.
Huh. I just thought of that. Maybe that is a good way to see these. Also, they may be practice scales, attempts just to put words down, to express thoughts, so that I can stay in shape doing just that, preparing for the more serious performances — my fiction.
Actually, I like that a lot. That also allows me to be perfectly happy when nobody or very few people read these posts; practice scales aren’t meant to be heard. Maybe these don’t need to be read. But I still want to write them. I still want to publish them, in case anyone does want to read them and could gain anything from them, and because the pressure of deadline and audience keeps me on my toes, keeps me sharp. Well. Sharp-ish.
The truth is also that I have opinions that I think people won’t like, and so I haven’t written about them. I haven’t thought clearly and methodically about them, largely for the same reason. Those are the ones that seem to be crowding my brain, while I look for excuses that are a good bar to hold them back. But they’re only excuses. If I’m going to trust my own opinions, then I should make them trustworthy: work through those opinions and come to a definite conclusion; I can do that here or on my own, and then present the conclusions in some kind of valuable way. Either method would be useful, but one of them needs to happen. I need to be willing to put forward the idea that is occupying me.
How the hell can my own mind hold so many nooks and crannies and secret rooms and traps and dead-ends and mazes and hidden monsters? What the hell are we? Are we miracles? Are we gods? Demons? Is it just me? How do other people put up with their brains being so goddamned weird?
I think that’s all for today. I’ll try in the future not to let the brambles grow up around my feet and hands.