Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Paradox

To be human is to live with paradox. We each contain all that is required to be despots or saints, we have inside us all the virtues and all the deadly sins, they are common to all people, everywhere. I have both the ability to be selfless and selfish and must employ both if I am to be a well rounded human being. If I have no regard for myself and my personal needs, if I never consider, 'What about me', I am a damaged creature at best and will never function well. Yet I am frequently considering others and doing selfless acts, thinking selfless thoughts, that are of no direct benefit to me and, indeed, are sometimes costly to me. Such acts are for the benefit of others, near and dear ones or even perfect strangers.

If I ran on instinct alone, some kind of primal survival mechanism, I do not doubt that I would at some point probably kill in order to promote or maintain my own survival, that I do not is a mark of my humanity. I am much more than an instinctive creature and I manage the vast panoply of paradox that is life through my reason, intellect, compassion, intuition, sensitivity, care, consideration and so on.

I balance, 'What about me', and consideration for the needs of others. How well I do that is down to being self aware and through having developed the habit of self honesty. The greater my self awareness, the greater my ability to handle paradox and the conflict that can and does arise from time to time.

I am an angry man and have lived a difficult and pain filled life. Although much of my inner distress is the direct result of the actions of others in my life, if I choose the path of blame and accusation, I resolve nothing, I just become angrier and eventually bitter. It avails me nothing to hold the cause of my distress responsible for dealing with it. It has become and is my distress and is something I must manage. Whatever cards life has given me, is the deck I must deal from. Anything else is just fanciful maundering. I cannot indulge in 'what if?'. No child asks to be sexually abused, I know I did not, yet the paradox is that whilst I did not ask for it, I must deal with it, I must own all that it has caused inside me. Where once I had no choice, now I have choice, and it is in exercising choice that freedom exists, if it exists at all.

If I am to be free, I must acknowledge that I am not free, in so many ways. Freedom is not a once found always available issue, it is an ongoing process, a daily reality of the tension of being both free and un-free. In acknowledging I am in bondage to some feeling, memory or situation that has pressed all my buttons and on which I have locked like a guided missile, I must either remain the prisoner of each of those thoughts, feelings or situations, or engage with the process of releasing myself in some way. Some situations require action on my part, perhaps just a refusal to allow the situation to continue, others require acceptance and an acknowledgment that I can do nothing and therefore must let it be and accept it for what it is, like it or not. Such tension is normal, that's life, how well we each deal with paradox and the sometimes overwhelming tensions that arise in life, decides how well we are able to enjoy life and live it to the full.

In embracing paradox there is liberty, but it is hard won, just as accepting that life is hard makes it remarkably easier to deal with. That's reality.

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