Not much of life happens in the middle.
Now, I know that if you reference Buddhism, for example, that it’s about non-attachment, and Zen is almost entirely about the “middle way.” So there’s an argument to be made, but stop and think about this for a second, ’cause Universe doesn’t really operate in the middle. It does all its cool shit at the extremes.
In nature, all growth happens at the boundaries. Trees don’t grow from the middle, they grow at the skinny twigs, desperately grasping at whatever they can to survive, to become more than they were a minute ago.
The cool part of black hole is the edge of it, the fantastic stretchy moment where it distorts the hell out of whatever is struggling to stay between worlds.
The start of a new relationship pushes us to bring our best (a boundary of sorts). And the end of a relationship shows truth, and if we’re open to learning, teaches us lessons we’ll never get sitting in the happy middle of “attachment.”
All growth happens at the boundary.
Ok, cool. So where’s the paradox, Chris? So glad you asked…
I’m going to answer this personally, not universally. At this point in my life, I need to be free to explore and learn and understand the world around me, to see the edges and boundaries. To dive deeper than is considered “normal” and also excel at the heights. AND, desperately want connection with a partner to travel that with me. AND absolutely want to avoid attachment where I feel enmeshed, confined, and restricted. It’s probably fair to say that’s a paradox (or just a little messed up).
Now let me be clear…I don’t say any of this as a commentary or narrative to any relationship I’ve ever been in. I say this because of how powerfully clear I am of this current reality. This isn’t about anyone, it’s just about where I’m at today. I imagine it will shift, or I’ll find a very special person who can navigate those boundaries with me, but I digress.
I want to push every damn boundary I can find. AND, I want to sleep in (mostly because I don’t sleep well). I want to not work so hard. I want to watch Netflix. I want to browse Facebook. I want to share stupid memes with friends. At the same time, I want to build an amazing business with my partners, learn other languages, understand dive physiology way better, travel essentially the whole world, read a stack of books and learn a new programming language. I want to order in for food, not make my bed and let my laundry pile up. AND I want to cook great meals, am meticulous about my stuff, and get pissed off at dry cleaners that use PERC (it’s a fucking carcinogen, for god’s sake).
What’s my point? It all exists. We are constantly torn apart by paradox and it’s gorgeous.
The “middle way,” the stillness of meditation, is an extreme. It’s the extreme opposite of our packed, frantic, fucking lives. It’s just a different extreme, and one I like (I meditate at least once a day).
So when you’re looking at your life, relax. Step back from the “balanced life,” because 1) you’re not gonna have it, and 2) at the end of the day, why would you want that?!
Allow paradox. There is chaos, and stillness in your day. There is deep compassion and total impatience in your day. There is kindness and a complete and utter disregard for others (or yourself) in your day. There is profoundly good judgement, and complete fuck-ups in your day. There is sensuality and passion, and totally flat stand-off-ish-ness in your day.
It’s all there. Instead of trying to (uselessly) eradicate any of it, try allowing it. Try noticing it. Try savouring and embracing it.
Paradox isn’t just your friend, it’s the truth.