On dissonance and answers that cook slowly

.
When I was in secondary school, one of my nicknames was “questionnaire”. I loved to question. I had a teacher who always told me that some of my questions would have to wait till senior secondary school, and to keep them in the oven. It felt so uncomfortable to have to wait another two years to get the answer to the question. I wanted to not just memorize, because I didn’t enjoy it, but understand. If I could understand a law in physics or mathematics, then I did not need to memorize it, I could derive it, even without having to cram it. And there was something solving things did for me – the best word I can find is that it turned me on.
 
Just imagine how Isaac Newton must have felt, trying to understand the laws of the universe and then suddenly, having it come together as an apple fell from a tree. So there is the mind working on the topic sub-consciously, and then luck, or what I once heard a priest describe as a windfall of grace, dropping an apple on his head, and then the answer. It’s something to think that for this and many other groundbreaking innovations, if that stroke of luck never happened, then an innovation that is the foundation of the modern world would never come to be.
 .
Apparently my mind works like a scientist – working things over and over again, until I can resolve them. When I can’t my natural response is to just keep lulling it over. I keep baking it consciously, and living my life but still thinking about it on a level that is quite conscious. I like to test my models and see how they cohere and when things don’t cohere, I like to either find a new model or continuing working on the model till it makes sense.
 .
This is a type of integrity to me, without which I experience dissonance. Except that sometimes you need the dissonance and to live with it for a long while to be honest to the topic. Except that one life can be a mix of such dissonant traits, or traits with dissonant consequences. Sometimes you will live your whole life in a space of dissonance. Sometimes your entire life’s work may be in a dissonant space, and maybe the only coherence that will be found is when someone from the future finds a type of home in your own dissonance. Sometimes the dissonance already precedes you – being written in your history before you were born.
 .
Quick answers are wonderful for things that have answers, not so much for things that don’t. Or things my brain needs to develop over time, to know. Or things I cannot get closure on no matter how many times I replay them. Or issues on which my body will precede my mind  – that is, rather than thinking into new ideas, I will live them first and then change my mind. Or failures within and without one’s locus of control. Or the opportunity cost of choices made which one can never truly know. Or the completely vulnerable space that love can take you into.
 .
Then what does the scientist do? I have found there is a way to actually hold these parts of myself that the scientist cannot resolve and just be with them. And that my mind is not the only faculty available for knowing – I have my whole body, the rest of my senses. I also have time.
 .
Sometimes integrity is also being at home with dissonance when that is an even harder option than quick resolution. Sometimes one just has to shut up and let life be confusing, stupefyingly beautiful, maddeningly short and so many other dissonant and unresolvable things. Sometimes it will be a little while until the apple drops on your lap. But there is life to be lived in the meantime.
.
I wrote a journal to support you (and myself) in courageously sharing our gifts. Consider getting it by clicking here. I hope you will find it valuable.
Share Button

Leave a Reply