contradiction and paradox

“Little Girl in Blue” by Amedeo Modigliani
“Little Girl in Blue” by Amedeo Modigliani

How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.
~ Barry Lopez
(Arctic Dreams)

10 thoughts on “contradiction and paradox”

  1. Barbara,

    I have been attracted to Modigliani for a long time, there is a child like quality to his paintings, the forms, the character of the position of the figure, etc.

    I don’t know Barry Lopez, but he has something “Buddhist” going on here, being present a midst the chaos, embracing the the contradictions or at least knowing that they are part of life.

    As I process, and not very well as of yet the aging of my mother, her Alzheimer’s, my lack of understanding and confusion in her activities, her contradictions. There is something childlike, in her examining things, organization of certain things.

    I could go on and on but I will not claim your post for my musings !

    I am Love, Jeff

    1. Thank you, Jeff, for sharing so many of your wonderful thoughts with me! I have found a treasure-trove of Modigliani’s work, and Odilon Redon’s, too. I love that child-like quality, and the colors – they seem to connect us to our inner child and the simplicity and magic we find there. It seems that many nature writers like Lopez have an affinity with Buddhism that comes out in their writings.

      My heart goes out to you and your mom, as I know from personal experience, living with Alzheimer’s or dementia is a heart-breaking, painful and terribly long road for parent and adult child. You learn to treasure the good moments, simple pleasures. With my dad that usually means quietly sharing an apple or an orange. The role reversal and living life “on hold” is exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally. May love keep you strong on this present journey through paradox and contradiction. *hugs*

    1. Me, too, Sybil. Leaning into the light keeps us making our way in a positive direction in spite of the darkness.

    1. So true, so often there is no way to connect the dots. Sometimes as a child I thought all the answers were known by the adults and I would be privy to them some day. What a struggle I had learning to live without them…

    1. Sometimes it does seem like there is no way we can do “enough,” Bente, but the following little poem helps to lift my spirits. In the end, it’s the sum of all these little acts of caring and kindness that make the world a better place.

      If I can stop one heart from breaking
      I shall not live in vain
      If I can ease one life the aching
      Or cool one pain,
      Or help one fainting robin
      Unto his nest again,
      I shall not live in vain.
      ~ Emily Dickinson

  2. Contradiction and contrast are so important in life … in art. I love Modigliani’s work – this is one I wasn’t familiar with. It’s as if he distorts people to find their true/raw essence. Thank you for sharing! XO

    1. That’s so true, Diane. Learning to live fully in the midst of such paradox and contradiction has been one of the most important psychological journeys of my adult life. Sometimes I manage pretty well – other times, not so much! *hugs*

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