Matthew McConaughey just launched his children's book Just Because, which I find an apt representation of an under-appreciated nuance of the world. My favorite line from the book: Just because I'm going in circles, doesn't mean that I'm dizzy. Just because I'm sitting still, doesn't mean that I'm not busy.
One thing can have two conclusions, is the essence here. What's even trickier is how one thing can have two opposite conclusions. Sitting still might mean you're not busy and being busy might also mean you're totally not busy.
This revealed an insight: In a world where dualities not only coexist but also confound, paradoxes are resilient. For paradoxes will always persist since one phenomena can have two inferences. Just because...
Think about light. Is it a particle? A wave? But a conversation like the one Oppenheimer and Lomanitz had is one representation of how the answer is delightfully paradoxical: it’s both. It's the same with Schrödinger's cat that is teetering between life and death.
But these thought experiments aren’t for academic use only; they show a deeper, layered reality. A reality that works even when it shouldn't and a reality that has two real outcomes. (Refer to this piece.)
But we like to deal with reality that only has a single real outcome. Our instinct to evaluate others is swift, often based on their surface actions. But self-reflection? That's a labyrinth. Inside our minds, justifications assemble like defense lawyers. We argue, debate, and resolve our own cognitive dissonance. We just don't do this for others' actions.
And that's perhaps good in a specific context, but the moment that context becomes super-important, the Occam's razor explanation becomes incapable of dealing with that complexity.
I finished watching Ted Lasso on AppleTV recently. On first glance, it's comedy and light-hearted banter. But as you let that show marinate, you'll find it's also a commentary on leadership, vulnerability, and human connection. Its clear message, "Be curious, not judgmental," almost feels Socratic as it shows how we should question and explore.
I'll go on to say that most things, phenomenons, and ideas have two conclusions. But just because one conclusion fits your narrative doesn't mean the other is necessarily wrong. Novelist William Maughan said that there are three rules to good writing. “Unfortunately no one knows what they are.”
Life's most impactful truths are also usually not known to most folks. But like how communication is in what's left unsaid, real insight is in what's left unresolved. That does not mean you need to resolve a paradox; oftentimes, you won't be able to.
The quest, then, should be of finding the paradox and seeing where it applies, and where it doesn't. This is not the same as 'what works for you might not work for them', but more; this is about how the ambiguity and paradox of most things can still lead you to meaningful discoveries.
For if we are true explorers eager to engage with the world, we must embrace its paradoxes, its dualities. For within these, often, lie the most profound insights, the richest textures of our shared experience.
Find truth; don't seek it.
In finding truth, you may not find truth, but you will come out with interesting realizations. In seeking truth, you will not seek truth (for truth is complex) and you will not find out about interesting workings of most things.
Until next time,