Thursday, May 22, 2008

Creation and Destruction

I have been thinking about certain words we use, certain binaries/dualisms we rely on a lot in life, and two of them have come up in class, as well, this week, as if to further my inquiry in a group setting filled with curiosity: accidents versus synchronicity, and strengths versus weaknesses. In life, it has seemed to me that we rely on these being not only opposites, but also places of blame and credit. For instance, if something horrible happens, it's an accident, but if something wonderful comes out of the blue instead, it's "synchronicity." As well, if something we do out of habit seems to contribute to our own well being or others' in a direct and measureable fashion, it's a strength, and,well, you get the gist.

One student addressed this directly in her writing this week when she got the quote from The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler (which I used as a prompt for the week): "Confusion is very accident-prone. He lives from crisis to crisis." She spent her writing time exploring what this means - what does confusion mean, and when is it helpful, as opposed to direct honesty, for instance. Others who got that quote this week really looked at why confusion happens, and how helpful it can be; an indicator that things are about to clear up, a little indicator from the universe of its own form of resistance. Confusion, for one student, brought up how she can more finely see the distinction between what is an accident and what is synchronicity - when she bumps her legs against the tables of friends' houses she is staying in now that she has broken up with her partner, is that an accident or assistant? The bruises remind her of her confusion and are a helpful (if slightly painful) indicator of where she is at right now and that that isn't going to change that quickly. Why do we judge confusion and accidents, "negative happenings" so closely, so critically? I think it mostly comes from a wish for distance - aspiring to believe that the universe "did these things to us" renders us victims, that we, ourselves, would never invite something horrible to happen, karmically or even just out of sheer inattentiveness, much less that the not paying attention could be an indicator in itself.

Then there are the strengths and weaknesses. We got into a longer discussion about the idea that your strengths "come from" your weaknesses, this week in one class. All of a sudden I said outloud something that had been percolating in me for a long time- "What if our weaknesses are only weaknesses because they are our strengths but turned inwards against ourselves?" So, for instance, say I really like chocolate (let's just say for sake of example, it's not real, of course, and here's my addy where you can send me chocolate...). Not a "problem" until it causes undue weight gain or eating problems or pimples - basically, excess, which is a desire, not inherently a bad thing, turned in on itself and into something else. Not that anyone would call loving chocolate a strength, though, so let's pick something more contentious. Anger. Anger isn't a bad thing on its own. Needed, often clarifying. But when used for its own ego aims - to manipulate, to disrupt, it could be a weakness. When used to compassionately understand someone else's cause, it could be a strength...

Anyway, all things to consider. Thank you classes as always for teaching me so much!