Lately, I have grappling with paradox.
One of my favorite poets, Paul Tran (yes, I have written about them previously) said in a recent interview that they spent much of their lives in search of form. The sonnet or villanelle? Or perhaps free verse? They also explained that the search for poetic form was a search to answer life’s biggest questions.
Which always have one answer. Right?
First of all, the answers aren’t out there, and secondly the answers evolve. They are nuanced. And often filled with paradox.
Yes, I can be grateful and resentful. Yes, I can be excited about my upcoming move and be scared. I can be thrilled for my children’s independent natures and mourn their eagerness to leave. And I can
really believe that this too shall pass and still sometimes feel like this particular this is just taking too damn long to pass.
Yes, it can all be true. All at the same time—the joy and excitement and fear and courage and confusion and clarity.
I recently came across the work of Shauna Shapiro, who writes that the three aspects of mindfulness are intention, attention and having an attitude of kindness and curiosity. She explains that mindfulness isn’t just about the what of being aware, but the how; are we being mindful with kindness, self-compassion, patience or are we flooding ourselves with negative thoughts and self-recrimination?
Having a mindful approach to our lives gives us space to hold paradox. We can see the complex natures of our minds, the complicated situations we are facing and the challenges of those in our lives. And we can be with it—all of it—rather than rushing to stamp some easy-fix black and white solution on it. It frees us up to be human. Duh, as one of my daughters often comments when I state the obvious.
So as we navigate the paradox-filled waters of our lives, perhaps we can try to bring some softness and kindness and curiosity and allow all the contradictions of ourselves and others and life to be held in our own loving arms.