15 October 2009

Paradoxically speaking

Lately I've been reading The Tao of Physics, a book by Fritjof Capra which investigates parallels between Eastern spiritual traditions and modern atomic physics. It is an interesting read, although those of lesser scientific minds (myself included) might find themselves reading some of the physics passages more than once -- or a dozen times -- to pick up the gist.

In any case, the book has piqued my interest, specifically some of the paradoxical aspects of quantum theory. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how light can behave both like a particle and a wave. Doesn't make sense, yet it happens. Go figure.

Yesterday, I ran into a paradox of my own. I'm a big believer in the theory that the universe will teach you the same lesson over and over (and over and over and over and over) again until you "get" whatever it is you are supposed to learn. I believe it because I've seen it happen in my own life. Sometimes it's been a subtle teaching, other times good ole sensei universe whacked me upside the head with a big stick. Sure, there were different teaching methodologies at different times, but the same lesson(s) were taught until I knew them by heart.

So my paradox is this: When I am being taught the same lesson again and again, why is it that I learn something new and different with each successive teaching?

You would think that learning the same lesson numerous times would get old. And all too often, it does. Sometimes the lessons come with hurt, heartache, and sadness -- generally of my own making. But with each teaching, I learn.

I guess it's similar to looking at a painting from different vantage points and finding something new, something hidden, that you didn't see from the previous viewpoint. From one view, you might be taken in by a slight variation in shading. From another, the texture of the paint on the canvas might capture your eye. Even though it is the same painting, each perspective uncovers something you couldn't see -- or simply hadn't noticed -- before.

So maybe it's not a paradox; maybe it's just life. In any case, I like learning something new every day, even if it is just recognizing something about myself.

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