“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. “(Tony Schwartz)”
Paradox – A person or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.
In today’s deeply divided America, the idea of forming compromise manifests today as a seemingly insurmountable problem. It seems to me then that the idea of paradox provides a practical solution to overcome such “I’m Right You’re Wrong” thinking. Consider the following dilemmas.You are driving through a desert in torrid heat and spot a grassy oasis in the distance along the lonely road. It’s true that you’ve envisioned in your mind a potentially restful place to stop ahead. Yet you soon realize that your mind has simply played a “trick” on you in making real this comforting yet false mirage. Or imagine that storm clouds suddenly part to reveal a spectacular rainbow in the distant sky. Yet as you come nearer to this colorful orb, these pleasing visual images vanish into “thin air”.
In both of these paradoxical situations, notice how one’s perceptions of reality can dramatically alter from moment to moment. It follows that the appearance of such contradictory thoughts in the above examples clearly alters any prior assumptions about the presence of deserts/rainbows. Paradoxical discoveries then provide a worthwhile way to open our mind to consider alternate realities of human experience.
I similarly see the power of paradoxical thinking as a creative, decision-making tool with respect to my independent minded travel. For by applying the element of contradictory connections to a paradoxical event encountered , a variety of new lessons about conducting my when, where, and how trip wanderings pop up accordingly. So as I “dig deep” into my sensory capabilities, I thus present ten (10) perplexing paradoxes encountered from my recent journeys in the following photographic collection.
Watching Buddhists methodically build a sacred “Mandala” in San Luis Obispo, California with great skill and effort, I wonder why did they tear it down so soon after completion?
Lesson # 1: Travel with passion now while you can.
Sharp French cheese typically makes a tasty delicacy on our visits to Paris. So why does it have to smell so bad before I taste it?
Lesson #2 : Be mindful of deceptive Air B&B lodging advertising as you never know what you will be getting.
Creationism theories as depicted in this Kentucky Museum Diorama demonstrate that dinosaurs coexisted peacefully with humans in prehistoric times. So why do humans treat animals so inhumanly today?
Lesson #3: Be kind to strangers because you want to not because you feel morally compelled to.
This set of stairs in Jaipur, India might make a beautiful addition to this tower. But what functional sense does it make that its path takes one nowhere?
Lesson #4: Be willing to change your walking path to avoid encountering deceptively enticing dead ends.
Why aren’t these water buffalos fulfilling their basic survival functions as river dwellers in New Delhi, India? Instead they appear forced to walk on the the dusty roads.
Lesson #5: Respect the natural habitats of animals when approaching wildlife areas.
At the beginning of every Miami Dolphins football game at Hard Rock Stadium,a joyous celebration of fans welcomes their hometown team as they enter the field. Yet how many of these spectators are so distracted by such raucous party action that will lose focus on actually watching the game?
Lesson # 6: Don’t get “caught up”in the social agenda hype of guided tours.
American History textbook attribute the beginnings of our Democracy to the “Founding Fathers”. Thus, how many visitors who stare at this Art Museum painting in Cleveland, Ohio are oblivious to the prominent presence of Native American people proudly depicted here? Would they thus interpret our country’s origins from a strictly a “white man’s” point of view?
Lesson #7 : “Lie low”and avoid boasting about “America First” ideals in my overseas travels. Be mindful of the views of other cultures.
The entirety of Yellowstone National Park sits atop a massive underground layer of explosive geothermal activity. However, in walking dangerously along it’s volatile land surface dotted by free flowing geysers, wild running rivers, and deep crevassed snowfields, I often experience the unexpected feeling of inner peace and calm serenity.
Lesson #8: Face hazardous destinations in travel with a positive state of mind.
The lifeless desert expanse of Central Utah suddenly got unexpectedly exciting for me at Goblin State Park as I overlooked this strange field of rock formations resembling cartoonish conversations of dwarf like gnomes.
Lesson #9 : Be more observant of your natural surroundings for signs of personal growth.
It can be very challenging at times to make your way through the hectic crowds of a busy, American city. Yet I notice that this talking monument at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago provides a pleasing sense of human belonging to counter such impersonal urban madness beyond.
Lesson 10: Allow your visual sense to lead you along walking tours of an unfamiliar city to places of informal human gathering.