My kiddos are all out the door for their first full day of school – swirling stomachs, smiles, and all. I’m thrilled for them, and feel fortunate to truly believe that each of our three children will have an expansive year – through the ups and the downs, the neat and the messy, the big and the small.
As for me, I shut the door behind them and felt the now-familiar bittersweet sense that permeates my state of being every time we move out of summer and into a new year. Actually, bittersweet is a terrific depiction of so much in life which leads me head-on into my new love affair with “and/both.”
This particular infatuation has been crystallizing for years, but something about the paradoxes of this particular season, created the breakthrough moment of understanding over and over again.
I feel it is truly time to say good-bye to the “either/or” paradigm. Seriously, it is an old belief system that holds us in a pattern of me against you, my way or the highway, victim-hood or villain-hood, my perspective or your perspective, and generally creates an inability within each of us to see multiple angles of any given life experience or interaction.
I have come to see quite clearly in my moments of truth, that an either/or perspective no longer serves me. Recently, when I’ve become caught in a twirl (a repetitive mental projection, anxiety, judgment, quandary) – I’ve found that when I finally reawakened into the and/both reality, I was literally filled with peace, acceptance and truth around a particular subject.
At its most basic and core, the and/both understanding allows us to see that multiple truths can indeed be true in any given situation – it simply depends on our perspective. I, along with many others, like to call it the divine paradox or divine dichotomy. I used to hold the divine paradox as a belief, but not one that I utilized daily and moment-to-moment to discover greater peace and joy in my everyday life. But this summer, I’ve developed a full-on love affair with the philosophy, leaving either/or behind like a lover who has lost its allure.
Time and time again over the past few months, I would find myself beginning to judge something or someone as good or bad, right or wrong, disappointing or positive, and I observed that when I stayed in this either/or perspective, stress increased. And when I moved (even a little bit) in the direction of and/both, the possibility for peace increased greatly and often fully and spontaneously.
Obviously, this is a huge, expansive topic – and once understood, it becomes a pivotal idea for many. All I can say is that when actually integrated (versus simply believed in an esoteric kind of way), it really is a game-changer and a life-changer.We can unstick ourselves in many situations and relationships by at least moving a few steps closer to the idea that multiple truths/perspectives do actually share the same space.
But since this is a blog, not a book, I’ll wrap up with a few quick examples of this shift in perspective. I LOVE the abstract, but I know it’s important to bring it on home, too…
1) A big project at work is BOTH exhausting AND empowering.
2) An illness is BOTH undesirable AND an opportunity for a deepened appreciation of wellness.
3) A disagreement with a friend is BOTH that one may cross too many boundaries AND that one may be afraid of intimacy.
4) A funeral is BOTH tragic AND celebratory.
5) A cut from a sports team is BOTH disappointing AND freeing.
The examples, both big and small, could go on and on. My point is this: we all say that we desire peace, and if we really desire peace, then we must learn how to rest within the paradoxes of life rather than fight them–and they are everywhere!
On my twenty plus years on the path of personal growth and spiritual development, this understanding of and/both has been perhaps the most life-changing. Search for the paradoxes in all of life. Yes, we continue to follow our intuition and make choices that feel right for us, but right along with that, we understand and accept the paradoxes- the and/both-ness of it all. PEACE…at last!