Once I noticed that I was passing most of my day checking in on myself, like a babysitter: Are you OK? Are you happy? Oh, I’m sorry, you must be unhappy. Too bad!
I saw my day as if it were a large desert with two tanks on it, facing off against each other. One had a happy face on the top of it, the other a sad face. There was a dotted line between them to show where the territories were, to show who was winning that day.
The joke was that the dotted line only extended a few feet beyond the sides of the tanks. Since there were no other points of reference in sight, it was impossible to say who was winning. And as much as I wanted a “resolution”, it was obvious that there would be never be a Final Score. It was like an endless child’s game, played by two idiots.
It also occurred to me that if I have to decide between happiness and unhappiness, I would choose happiness, obviously. But you know what? My answer would be wrong. That’s is because the minute I choose happiness, I automatically invent unhappiness. Such cruel fate!
Similarly, the minute I choose being “right”, I invent “wrong”. By staking out a position, any position, and calling it “right”, I will have to go out and find someone who is “wrong”. In fact, if I need to, I will attract (or actually create) that opposition in my mind. And that’s what we do, unconsciously: we find someone within reach and simply misunderstand and misrepresent his or her point of view until we are like the two tanks in the desert.
In short, by accepting one side of any coin, we accept both sides. And sooner or later these two extremes are going to have to meet up with each other, because if they don’t… what’s the point of being “right”? Don’t I get to “prove” it to someone?
In fact, now that I know this, I might even find myself going in the opposite direction right away. People may say I am not coherent – Bob Dylan talked about being a different person in the evening than the one who woke up – but actually it can be quite efficient: it saves me the trouble of having to wait for my opposite friend to show up to argue with!
Eventually, I believe, this duality is meant to keep us in balance, because arguing with others is so exhausting that it makes us desire rest… and so we return back to our calm center. Once we learn that, we simply don’t venture out too far from our centers – no use creating enemies everywhere!
We go out just a few steps… and then turn back. And we stop trying to resolve things, one way or the other, out there in the hot, burning desert.