I have been thinking a great deal about insolubility lately. Not the inability to mix oil and water (if that is even something that is fairly described as an insolubility). No, what I am thinking about is myself. I have found, time and again, that the life I am trying to live is one which is inevitably defined by sets of things which I hold to be true, but which do not (superficially at least) appear to go together. I listed some of these pairs previously. Reason and Faith. Leading and Following. Shyness and Sybaritism.
I have no desire to attempt to justify my ability to hold these values simultaneously. It is enough that I do, and that I have discovered that there is only conflict if I manufacture it. I have talked myself, and allowed myself to be talked, into conflict between these principles more times than is necessary, and I have concluded that they appear to be insoluble only because we have a narrow understanding of solubility and a very small concept of the complexities that a being may safely contain within himself.
What interests me the most tonight, is how my experience of these insoluble values has shaped my thinking, shaped the person I am becoming, and made me open to the opportunity to create Transformation in my life.
The first step for me is recognizing that there is a great power in the coexistence of seemingly contradictory principles. Not, as some practice, because bringing those principles into collision creates a combustible source of uncertainty, but because the simultaneous belief in numerous insoluble principles permits me a latitude of action that is impossible under other circumstances. By having abiding faith and yet obeying the constraints of reason I do not limit myself or create conflict. I provide myself with the resources of both principles and the opportunity to engage my experience in a variety of ways that a man of science or god could not otherwise do.
Most importantly, my principles are not disposable or temporary. While my beliefs evolve over time, I do not subscribe to a way of thought or a system of belief just to enable the conflict of ideas that creates opportunity. My values are my constant companions. They define my character and the choices I make. I do not turn my back on my faith or my reason because they become uncomfortable or because they are not immediately useful. These insolubilities are the double (and occasionally triple or quadruple) helix of my cosmological DNA.
This truth is the biggest challenge I face. It is not must a matter of accepting the insoluble as part of my makeup. What I struggle with in my daily life, is being simultaneously genuine to all aspects of my being. How is it possible to be genuine to my faith and my reason? The easiest answer is to express both without preferential treatment. When discussing a matter that intersects with both I’ve learned to answer twice. Or three times. Or four. But there Is another path here. A golden path. It is what I strive for, but only occasionally achieve.
Instead of giving an answer for each of my insoluble selves, the golden path is to answer in my voice. The voice of theo. Theo, who contains in himself these insolubilities, and as a result answers with a knowledge that unifies the insoluble principles. It is the golden path that I strive for every day, that I struggle to achieve. I feel it when I achieve it. I am transformed from an intelligent man casting about for the strands of a vast web of experience into a wise man, painting his view of the world with masterful strokes of language.
Sometimes I can feel it happening. Sometimes it surprises me. Other times I do not know it’s happened until it is over. But I live for those moments. The moments in my life when I am wise and the answers are simple and complete and unchanging. It is in those moments that I feel most truly myself. I feel then, as though I am transforming myself, and the world.