Living in Paradox


When I announced to one of my closest friends “I’m moving out of here and traveling for awhile,” he loudly proclaimed “But what will you do with all your books!” Others are more pointed: “Mom, don’t bring anymore of your books over here!”

Today I’m living in chaos and thinking about paradox. I’ve been sitting on the floor with 3 boxes labeled “keep,” “consign” and “give away,” next to a pile of books.

I read once that our books tell our history. It’s a good thing I have 6 weeks forward before I leave because I keep traveling back through time reading underlined passages on pages with the corners turned long ago. Some books have so many notes or bent page corners or little “stickies” they can never be used by anyone else. This could take some time…

I got stuck in Change, principles of problem formation and problem resolution written by Paul Watzlawick, John Weakland and Richard Fish and published in 1974. I probably bought it when I was studying psychology and philosophy in the 70’s. Much of the message is about paradox – “I’m going to be fine,” I say to my kids who sometimes wonder if I’ve gone off the rails. The authors claim something like, when we do it we live it, or at least, hopefully, learn. The idea is that by feeling my fear and moving out into the wider world the fear will go away and I’ll be fine. We’ll see, we’ll see.

Next of course is The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock published in 1990. She concludes the book with, “Women today are acquiring the courage to express their vision, the strength to set limits, and the willingness to take responsibility for themselves in a new way. They are reminding people of their origins, the necessity to live mindfully, and their obligation to preserve life on earth.” Hmm.

A newer book from my women’s studies shelf, Women Writing for (a) Change by Mary Pierce Brosmer comes up. I’ve marked her conclusions in the chapter titled Digression and Paradox. “This paradox”  (men having more authority writing about women than women do) “awakens a deep knowing: I see without full realization that I have taken on something that appears to be impossible in my lifetime: genuine and whole hearted embrace of the feminine as well as the actual persons and practices of the feminine, by all of us still bathed in patriarchy.”  The book came to me because of a recommendation from the National Catholic Reporter.

As I plan to spend time investigating older women living in community I think about some of the items on Brosmer’s list titled A Primer of Conscious Feminine Leadership:  “We are they and the system is us; Don’t talk about what they or the system won’t let you do; Lead from where you are; Invite a potential community; Hold the creative tension between process and product, openness and boundaries; Set your intentions publicly; Serve the work; Give up the need to be seen as a player, smart, cool, or in the know; Find your joy in serving the whole.”  Keep, for now.

I keep Heroine’s Journey and A Mythic Life, Learning to Live our Greater Story, by Jean Houston. I studied a bit with Jean and loved being in her presence. She reminds me to live in my story. I’m giving up Change but living it.

And, I’m keeping Proust, Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer. He writes “what makes each of us his or her own human, is not simply the genes we have buried in our base pairs, but how our cells, in dialogue with our environment, feed back to our DNA, changing the way we read ourselves” (2007, pgs. 44-47). Every day we decide what our brains and hearts will become; every person discovers a different meaning in the same image. This has profound implications for our world. This changing the way we read ourselves and the world around us relates to how we deal with seeming chaos – change, from the simple to the most profound.

To be continued…

P.S. Ideas for old books!


About Marian Methner, B.S., D.Min.

Polydox: accepting that we are many labels, I am mother of 4, mother in law (love) of 4 and grandmother of 5. My life is a collection of bits and starts. I was recently on the road for over a year exploring ideas of living in shared housing. A recent summer course in Permaculture design, solidifed my interest in "social permaculture" or ways we interact not only with our Earthly environment but also with each other. I am back Bellingham, Washington, in a small rental house, owned by my ex husband, talk about shared housing, practicing living in community with family, and friends. My doctoral dissertation A Map to Living Open Heartedly, centers around making art as a way to healing. Paradoxiclly, a recent diagnoses of heart failure (cardiomyopathy) expands this exploration...
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3 Responses to Living in Paradox

  1. Donna Butman says:

    These thoughts are a solid beginning for your next book not only in the insight but as the road map for your discoveries. Keep writing. By the time your walk-about is complete (if it ever is), you will have created the solid road map for your ongoing steps in creativity. Hooray!

  2. Carol Huntley says:

    Marian, what will I do now?!
    Now that I have downsized, and put my “stuff” in storage,
    I no longer care about any of it – EXCEPT my art books. I’m buying a book shelf.
    But I know the day will come that those won’t matter either.
    I hope not too soon. I guess I’ll have to write my own.
    Love, Carol

    • Hi Carol. Thanks for your comment – it has caused me to wonder about all those books in storage – will they have a new home “in the future” or can the library use them now! love marian

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