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The Wisdom of Dichotomies: The World is a Mess and Life Optimism Reconciled

Photograph by eNil via Flickr

Photograph by eNil via Flickr

I was talking with our housekeeper Fany this morning about an earthquake that hit Honduras the day before.

In non-negative way, she was saying how this is just another example of all that is happening in the world today.  I made a joke, something to the effect of “El fin del mundo esta muy cerca!”  She sort of shrugged and mentioned that she does think the end of the world may be not too far out.

The next thing she said was what struck me.  She said this belief makes it easier for her to live each day to the fullest.  The feeling that the world is a crazy, unstable place meant for her a greater sense of calm and day-to-day optimism.

While I don’t agree about a pending cataclysmic event, it does make sense why these two seeming opposite mindsets actually interplay so well.    I can see how a doomsday philosophy could simultaneously someone a more passionate, optimistic person.

This exchange is also a perfect illustration of the power of an optimistic mindset.  A negative person would let a doomsday belief translate to apathy and cynicism, while an optimistic person works off of the belief to introduce more passion into each day.

All of this (both the “world is in constant flux” theme and the dichotomy concept) reminds me of a Joseph Cambell quote:

“When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree.  The world is perfect.  It’s a mess.  It has always been a mess.  We are not going to change it.  Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”


The more I experience life the more I come across the wisdom of dichotomies.


One Response to “The Wisdom of Dichotomies: The World is a Mess and Life Optimism Reconciled”

  1. alexandra bond says:

    I could not agree more with your housekeeper’s mindset. I also think that the economic situation we are all experiencing makes us realize what is important in life, what our “treasure” really is. Learning to live our life to the fullest, whether that means getting out more and seeing friends and family or taking more time for yourself is a decision. This post really made me think about what I can do to live more intentionally — and fully.

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