The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function — F. Scott Fitzgerald
I read David Brooks’ column this week in the New York Times and in it, he mentions the idea of opposability. He puts it on a list of what he terms “skills that are especially valuable right now.”
It got me thinking about two opposing ideas that I often find present in my day to day life:
The quality of your life in the present is correlated to the future you are working toward.
Life is difficult at times, especially when you have nothing to look forward to. To be working and living inside of a perspective that lacks possibility is stressful. To see no correlation between how you are spending your time and the future you want to create is not fulfilling. So always be working toward something—some future.
And There is no place to get to.
We live as though when we get to a certain place, life will start working or be really great. With this perspective, we are always waiting for next year or for when our kids finish college. Instead, choose the perspective that life is already working. If you think there is some place to get to before your life starts working, you won’t be any good right now.
I remember waiting for my friend and fly-fishing guide Bob Griffith to show up. Bob was running about 20 minutes late. I began to worry about meeting some other friends who were going fly-fishing for the first time. I didn’t want to be late, and I knew they were anxious to get started. Then I began to think about what I could be doing with the time I was wasting while waiting.
Then I realized that I was missing the sunrise and the mountains and the sound of the Gallatin River…most of what I came to see. And in that moment, when I realized there was no place to get to, the day began.
You see, life is only wonderful and you are only effective when you are present. Wherever you are is where you need to be right now.
It makes me think of this quote by American author Jodi Hills:
If I’m not happy in this time and place, I’m not paying attention.
What two opposing ideas are present in your life today? I’d love to hear in the comments about what creates a paradox in your life – whether at work or at home.