Meaning is the ultimate balance between, on the one hand, the chaos of transformation and possibility, and on the other, the discipline of pristine order, whose purpose is to produce out of the attendant chaos a new order that will be even more immaculate, and capable of bringing forth a still more balanced and productive chaos and order. Meaning is the Way, the path more abundant, the place you live when you are guided by Love and Truth and when nothing you want or could possibly want takes any precedence over precisely that. Do what is meaningful, not what is expedient.*
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.**
(James the Apostle)
Seventeen years ago, I came across a metaphor for life that includes the dynamic and the static, how we need both, the dynamic producing the static and the static stimulating the dynamic. When either spins off into their own smaller orbit, it results in spiritism or idealism on the part of the dynamic, and traditionalism or organisationalism (amnd, dare I say, totalitarianism) on the part of the static.^
Whenever I come across similar thoughts, I stop and notice.
Wallace Stevens offers just such a possibility when he writes about the new reality coming about when the pressure of reality meets the power of imagination.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes similarly with the concepts of belonging and exploration.^^
This is what Jordan Peterson offers us in the opening words for today. We find meaning between the chaos of the new or unfamiliar and the order of the old or familiar.
Albert Einstein claimed for himself:
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.*^
When we realise we hardly know anything, curiosity is what we need if we are to move from the static-familiar into the dynamic-unfamiliar, understanding that we’re able then incorporate and integrate the new-familiar into who we are and what we produce.
Curiosity doesn’t try to talk over what we are becoming aware of. First of all it needs to listen and inquire and learn.
You may enjoy Rebecca Elson’s poem Theories of Everything:^*
THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
(When the lecturer’s shirt matches the painting on the wall)
He stands there speaking without love
Of theories where, in the democracy
Of this universe, or that,
There could be legislators
Who ordain trajectories for falling bodies,
Where all things must be dreamed with indifference,
And purpose is a momentary silhouette
Backlit by a blue anthropic flash,
A storm on the horizon.
But even the painting on the wall behind,
Itself an accident of shattered symmetries,
Is only half eclipsed by his transparencies
Of hierarchy and order,
And the history of thought.
And what he cannot see is this:
Himself projected next to his projections
Where the colours from the painting
Have spilled onto his shirt,
Their motion stilled into a rigorous
Design of lines and light.
(*From Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.)
(^See Christian Schwarz’s Paradigm Shift in the Church.)
(^^See Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Creativity.)
(*^Albert Einstein, quoted in Bernadette Jiwa’s Hunch.)
(^*Rebeca Elson’s Theories of Everything, quoted in maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: The Universe in Verse.)